After giving birth, it is normal to experience a range of emotions, including joy, fear, and sadness. However, if feelings of sadness become severe and start to affect daily life, it may be a sign of postpartum depression (PPD).
Symptoms of PPD can begin within a few weeks of delivery, but can also develop up to six months later. They include mood swings, difficulty bonding with the baby, and difficulties with thinking and making decisions. If you suspect you may be experiencing PPD, it is important to know that you are not alone. Approximately 1 in 9 women in the United States are affected by PPD.
Although postpartum depression has been recognized for some time, many experts believe it is underdiagnosed. As the occurrence of postpartum depression increases, healthcare professionals are starting to identify risk factors in their patients as early as their first prenatal care visit. If a woman is at risk, her doctor can monitor her moods throughout pregnancy and after birth.
What are the treatments for postpartum depression?
The best way to determine the best postpartum depression treatment is to consult with your doctor. The duration and course of treatment for depression can vary depending on the severity of your condition and your specific needs. A referral to a mental health professional may also be recommended by a healthcare provider.
The initial step in treating depression is addressing immediate symptoms such as changes in sleep and appetite. Antidepressant medication is typically effective for this purpose. When breastfeeding, it is important to carefully discuss the use and type of antidepressant medication with a doctor. Medications, such as lithium, may raise concerns about potential toxicity in infants, though there is ongoing debate about it.
If you have previously experienced postpartum depression, your doctor may recommend starting preventive medication soon after giving birth or during pregnancy. While most antidepressants do not pose significant risks to a developing fetus, some medications may put you at risk. Certain antidepressants, such as Celexa, Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac, have been linked to cardiac and cranial defects when taken early in pregnancy.
After giving birth, there is a drastic decrease in the levels of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. This sudden change in hormone levels may contribute to the development of postpartum depression. As a result, hormone therapy may be part of the treatment plan for managing postpartum depression.
Although some studies have indicated that estrogen may be beneficial in treating postpartum depression in women, using hormonal treatments is still considered experimental. Administering estrogen during the immediate postpartum period carries certain risks, such as changes in breast milk production and an increased risk of thromboembolic events such as stroke and deep vein thrombosis.
Treatment for postpartum depression often includes psychotherapy, either alone or in combination with antidepressants. A healthcare provider can refer you to a qualified mental health professional who specializes in treating postpartum depression.
A counselor will assist you in learning how to perceive certain things differently and change specific habits to improve well-being. Two common types of therapy for postpartum depression in women are cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. In cognitive behavioral therapy, you and a counselor work together to recognize and alter harmful thoughts and behaviors. Interpersonal therapy involves working with a therapist to understand and address any issues in relationships.
What are postpartum depression remedies you can do at home?
In addition to seeking professional help, there are self-help measures that can be taken to supplement the treatment plan and accelerate recovery.
Physical activity can improve your mood. When you’ve fully recovered from childbirth, try to get some exercise every day. Studies have shown that vigorous exercise post-childbirth can lead to an enhanced sense of well-being. A healthcare provider can assist in creating a personalized exercise plan.
Make time for yourself.
Aside from exercising, nourish your body with healthy meals, enough rest, and zero alcohol consumption. Spend time alone with yourself to take a breather. Ask your partner to take care of the baby or find a babysitter. Engage in activities you enjoy. Having a baby does not mean that you will not prioritize your well-being.
Connect with people.
Communicate your feelings with your partner, family, and friends. Reach out to other mothers and discuss their experiences. Do not isolate yourself. Connecting with your friends and family will give you the assurance that you are surrounded by people who love you.
Ask for help.
Speak openly with loved ones and let them know that you need their support. Take advantage of offers for babysitting. Take a nap or hang out with friends. Asking for help does not make you an incompetent parent. It just means that you are willing to learn and be better. Taking care of a child does not come with a manual. You need all the help you can get.
If you are in need of therapy, visit Mindshift Psychological Services. Check out our website to learn more about us and our services. You may also contact us at (714) 584-9700 to schedule an appointment.