Peer Clinical Review Conducted by: Brandy Chalmers, M.A., LPC, NCC
Being diagnosed with Postpartum Depression can be overwhelming. On average, 1 out of 7 women will develop Postpartum Depression (PPD). Discussing your mental health concerns with a member of your medical team can help you identify the best treatment for you.
Treating PPD may require a team approach where your nurse, doctor, therapist and even your child’s pediatrician, may assess you for PPD. This assessment may be completed if they have concerns for your well being. If it is determined that you are at risk for PPD, you may be referred to the best provider to treat you, or you may receive treatment by more than one specialist.
There is more than one way to manage and treat PPD. The best treatment plan for you will be determined based on how mild, moderate or severe your symptoms are, your overall health, and even your decision to breastfeed or formula feed your baby. Postpartum Depression symptoms can be managed with one or more of the treatment options below:
During an individual therapy session, a psychologist or licensed therapist provides a confidential and judgment free space for you to process your experiences and symptoms. Therapists may use evidence-based interventions such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and relaxation techniques to assist with managing symptoms of PPD. Depending on your needs, therapy may also include exploring trauma associated with your birthing experience, or your childhood that may impact your current journey as a Mom.
Group therapy is offered by a licensed therapist. Group therapy can be helpful for mothers working through PPD because it allows them to receive therapeutic treatment for symptoms while connecting with other Moms with similar experiences. While no two mothers will have the same experience, group therapy can be a validating experience. Sharing experiences in groups helps participants normalize therapy, depression, and the overwhelmingness that often comes with a new baby. Depending on your needs and the recommendations of your therapist, individual therapy may also be beneficial.
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There are several types of support groups that can be helpful when working through and managing symptoms of PPD. Psychoeducational support groups are not a replacement for individual or group therapy with a licensed therapist. Groups provide education and support on relevant topics while connecting participants with peers. Some groups are based on a curriculum, while others may have a different focus each session. Support groups are often facilitated or moderated by trained leaders or peer specialists. Group participants and topics will vary, so it's important to find one that is best for your needs and interests.
Support Groups to Explore
- Positive or gentle parenting
- Mommy and Me meet ups
- Coping Skills
- Stress Management
- Newborn Care
- Working Moms
- LGBTQIA Parenting/Mom group
- Adoptive/Foster Parenting
- Military Moms
Therapy with your partner may be helpful when working through the adjustment period of having a new baby. Both you and your partner are juggling various responsibilities, which can place strain on the relationship you enjoyed before your baby. A licensed therapist can help your work through communication issues, relational stress and bonding as a family.
Medications such as antidepressants may be prescribed to assist you with managing symptoms of depression. After welcoming a new baby home, you may be experiencing some changes in your level of functioning. There are medications that are safe to take while pregnant and/or breastfeeding. To determine if medication is right for you, talk to a medical provider such as your OBGYN or your primary care doctor. If your provider feels it is necessary, you may be referred to a psychiatrist for ongoing medication management. Medication is not right for everyone and often works best with support with therapy.
Exercise is a great way to manage symptoms of PPD. Various forms of movement and exercise can be used as effective coping strategies. There are options such as Mommy and Me Yoga to assist with attachment and bonding.
78% of the women in a recent study reported clinically significant changes in the form of improvement in depression, anxiety and overall quality of life when participating in exercise. Be certain to consult with your doctor before resuming or beginning an exercise regimen. Exercising can be hard to fit in while caring for your new baby, but the possible benefits on your health can be rewarding.
The Bottom Line
PPD affects many people after childbirth. There are many different PPD treatment options available, including medications and counseling. If you start experiencing depression symptoms during or after pregnancy, let your provider know so that you can take steps to get treatment. They will work with you to find the best options to meet your needs. Additionally, talking to your partner, family, or friends about your needs can also help them understand your needs and assist with helping you make an informed decision.
McNiff, S. (2021, May 18). Postpartum Depression: A Guide to Symptoms & Treatment. Psycom.net. Retrieved April 5, 2022, from https://www.psycom.net/postpartum-depression#treatment
Mughal, S., Azhar, Y., & Siddiqui, W. (2021, July 2). Postpartum Depression - StatPearls. NCBI. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519070/
Yoga and Postpartum Depression: A Guide for Moms & Dads. (2020, April 20). Art of Living Retreat Center. Retrieved April 5, 2022, from https://artoflivingretreatcenter.org/blog/yoga-and-postpartum-depression-a-guide-for-moms-dads/