Postpartum Depression Treatment: It’s Alright to Not Be Alright!
Adjusting to being a mother can be stressful for anyone. You have to learn how to perform your new role as a mother by balancing self-care with caring for your new baby. Some women, who already have children, need to take care of their existing families along with welcoming a new child into the family.
This can be quite demanding and overwhelming at times. Often, new mothers who experience feelings of depression or anxiety feel guilty or ashamed about these symptoms. They may delay seeking appropriate postpartum depression treatment.
Because postpartum depression is a medical condition, it can be treated effectively and early treatment is essential to prevent the situation from worsening. It is extremely important for new mothers to realize that postpartum depression is not caused by any fault of their own.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a type of mood disorder that is known to affect some women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression tend to experience intense feelings of sadness, anxiety or exhaustion.
For a mother struggling with postpartum depression, the debilitating sadness and anxiety can become extreme. They may find it difficult to care for themselves or for their families.
Postpartum depression is not triggered by a single specific cause; instead, it is thought to result from a combination of emotional and physical factors. It is of vital importance to understand that postpartum depression does not occur due to something the mother did or didn’t do.
It should be remembered that the levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone drop drastically following childbirth. This sudden drop can cause chemical changes in the brain that may lead to mood swings. The mother may feel dreadfully depressed one moment and then suddenly, for no apparent reason, have high levels of energy and motivation the next.
Additionally, some mothers may not be able to get the rest they need to recover in full from the experience of giving birth. It is widely known that sleep deprivation may lead to exhaustion and overall discomfort. Imagine how it could affect a mother in the period following childbirth considering what she might already be going through.
Signs and Symptoms
Sad feelings and bouts of crying experienced by the mother after childbirth is commonly known as “baby blues”. These symptoms can be attributed to the typical hormonal changes that the female body goes through after childbirth and they should not last for more than a week or two.
Women who struggle with a more extreme version of the “baby blues” possibly suffer from postpartum depression. Feelings of sadness, anxiety and worry may last for many weeks. While baby blues pass quickly, postpartum depression is longer lasting and it may affect normal daily activities.
Postpartum depression may include various symptoms like:
- Feeling sad or depressed for the largest part of every day for several weeks
- Feeling withdrawn from your friends and family
- Losing interest in certain activities
- Changes in eating habits
- Any changes in sleeping habits
- Feeling tired for the largest part of the day
- Feeling excessively angry or irritable
- Being anxious, worrying, having panic attacks
- Struggling with racing thoughts
The symptoms of postpartum depression can start in the weeks following the birth of your child. Sometimes, however, these symptoms don’t appear until many months after childbirth.
Postpartum psychosis is also a mental health condition that can develop following childbirth. It is a rare, but very serious, condition that causes symptoms of hallucinations, paranoia and thoughts of harming yourself or other people. Sometimes, mothers may even have constant thoughts about harming their baby. Postpartum psychosis can be effectively treated and it is best to start the treatment early on.
If you are experiencing the signs of postpartum depression or perhaps postpartum psychosis, it is very important that you tell someone.
First Line Treatments
Postpartum depression may go away by itself after a few months; however, it should not last longer than two weeks. Think about getting postpartum depression treatment to make the task of being a mother a lot more enjoyable.
Postpartum depression treatment should be considered straight away. If the condition is spotted too late or completely missed, it may worsen. Furthermore, experts maintain that untreated postpartum depression may have a negative effect on the child. He or she could be more likely to develop sleep disturbances, insecurities, and impaired cognitive development.
Psychotherapy is a common approach to postpartum depression treatment. Your primary healthcare provider will possibly refer you to a mental health professional like a psychologist or psychiatrist. A therapist can provide you with emotional support. This will help you understand the way you feel and assist you in developing realistic goals to overcome the symptoms that you are struggling with.
Immediate problems like altered sleeping habits and appetite changes need to be taken care of first. Antidepressants are an effective postpartum depression treatment option. Seeing as small amounts of antidepressant medication is secreted in breast milk, your doctor will carefully consider which type of antidepressant medication will work best for you.
Your doctor will most likely advise you to take the antidepressant medication for 6 months at least. However, your personal history and symptoms will be taken into account to determine the duration of your treatment.
Some women may have had issues with postpartum depression after previous pregnancies. In such cases the doctor may advise them to take certain medications as a preventative measure during a future pregnancy or shortly after the birth of their next baby.
The most commonly used antidepressants used in pregnancy don’t pose any significant risks to the developing fetus. However, some other antidepressants are associated with defects in fetal development. It should be kept in mind that all medications may have potential risks and they should be used as part of a treatment plan designed by a professional healthcare practitioner.
Contraception should be considered if you do not wish to become pregnant while you are receiving treatment for postpartum depression. Some of the symptoms of postpartum depression can be aggravated by birth control pills. Talk to your doctor about which method of contraception is the best option for you.
Many hospitals have support group sessions for new mothers. The people who lead these support groups are usually women’s health experts. These group sessions provide a supportive place in which you are surrounded by other mothers who understand your struggles. You may learn about new ways to cope better with the stresses you experience on a daily basis. Ask your doctor or therapist about support groups for new mothers in your area.
Sometimes postpartum depression can get bad enough that you may need to check into an inpatient treatment center. These facilities are designed specifically for people suffering from severe depression. Alternatively, intensive outpatient programs and partial hospitalization can be considered in certain situations.
Intensive outpatient treatment programs are usually recommended for women who have less severe symptoms of postpartum depression. It provides an alternative treatment to an inpatient stay. Additionally, an intensive outpatient program is helpful for women who have been discharged from a hospital stay and still need some support. It is ideal for mothers who are not able to leave their day-to-day responsibilities behind and it is a more affordable option when compared to inpatient treatment.
Partial hospitalization is another alternative postpartum depression treatment option. Mothers receive close attention and their medication is carefully monitored. The program is generally available for around 6 to 12 hours per day for a stay of 4 to 8 weeks at most. Evidence has shown that these less restrictive stays may prevent future hospitalizations or shorten the length of a common hospital stay.
Many women who suffer from postpartum depression can benefit from an inpatient stay. In some cases, it may the best option, for instance, if the patient:
- May be at risk to hurt themselves or other people
- Is unable to function
- Needs observation while trying any new medications
- Is receiving treatments that are only available in a hospital
Lifestyle changes may help new mothers adjust to the responsibilities of motherhood. Moreover, they can help to reduce the symptoms associated with postpartum depression. Getting proper sleep, making time to exercise, eating healthy and surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family can do wonders for your mental health. Some additional forms of postpartum depression treatment include yoga therapy, massage therapy, and relaxation training.
It has been proven that exercise can lift mild depression. It is highly advisable that mothers enjoy yoga exercises at least twice a week for optimal results.
Massage therapy is considered to have a positive effect on mood. Therefore, mothers who have postpartum depression can greatly benefit from this type of treatment.
Did you know that by learning to soothe yourself you can learn to cope better with depression? Research has shown that relaxation training can help mothers recover from postpartum depression. Some examples of relaxation training techniques are:
- Deep breathing
- Guided imagery
What Doesn’t Work?
While some alternative postpartum depression treatments are thought to be effective, others may not be a good choice. You should always ask your doctor about any new treatment options before you try them.
Check with your doctor before trying any dietary or herbal supplements. They may have side effects even if they are 100% natural. Moreover, the scientific evidence to back their efficacy is still in its early stages and much more research is still needed about their effects on postpartum depression.
Acupuncture is considered safe, but it has been suggested that it may not help with postpartum depression.
Even though some forms of depression can be positively affected by exposure to bright light, it may not be quite as effective for treating postpartum depression.
Find a Therapist Now
At ThriveTalk, it is easy to find a therapist who can assist you with postpartum depression treatment. ThriveTalk offers an easy, straightforward sign-up process and our rates are affordable.
The guidance that our trained, licensed, experienced and accredited psychologists provide is based on the most up to date methodologies in human psychology and clinically proven best practices. Our caring and dedicated therapists are available to listen and to provide you with the needed strategies for overcoming postpartum depression.
With online therapy, a therapist can work with you in the comfort of your own home. This way, you can get professional help without having to fall behind on your daily tasks.
Get in touch with us here to learn about the services we offer and about how we can help you manage your postpartum depression.
Get Postpartum Depression Treatment ASAP
The period following the birth of a new baby is already stressful and postpartum depression can make it even more difficult. New mothers and their loved-ones should always be aware of the fact that postpartum depression is no-one’s fault and that it is a medical condition that can be treated.
If you are struggling with the symptoms of postpartum depression, you need to talk to someone. It may be a friend or family member or perhaps a therapist.
It’s alright to not always feel alright. Seek help for your condition and remember that the sooner you find help, the sooner you can enjoy your life and your new baby.