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Postpartum Depression Treatments

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Many new mothers experience the "baby blues" after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings and crying spells that quickly fade. But some new mothers experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression (PPD).

The American Psychological Association (APA) stated that studies estimate 10-15 percent of women may experience a major depressive episode within three months after giving birth.

Early treatment of postpartum depression (PPD) is very important. The sooner treatment starts, the more quickly one will recover, and the less depression will affect the baby. Babies of depressed mothers can be less attached to their mothers and lag behind developmentally in behavior and mental ability, said WebMD.

Treatment of postpartum depression is different depending on the type and severity of a woman's symptoms, wrote MedicineNet.com.

Treatment options include counseling. Mayo Clinic said that it may help to talk through concerns with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional.

Through counseling, women can find better ways to cope with feelings, solve problems and set realistic goals. Sometimes family or relationship therapy also helps.

New York Times Health News (NYT) recommended that women ask their doctors for a mental health therapist referral. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) are types of talk therapy that have been found effective for treating postpartum depression.

Antidepressant medications are another treatment for postpartum depression.

For women who are breastfeeding, don't assume that you can't take medication for postpartum depression. Under a doctor's supervision, many women take medication while breastfeeding, wrote MedicineNet.com.

NYT said that there are several types of antidepressant medications that may be given to breastfeeding mothers, including paroxetine, sertraline, and nortriptyline.

Another treatment for postpartum depression is hormone therapy. Mayo Clinic wrote that estrogen replacement may help counteract the rapid drop in estrogen that accompanies childbirth, which may ease the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression in some women.

However, research on the effectiveness of hormone therapy for postpartum depression is limited. Discuss the potential risks and benefits of hormone therapy with your doctor, as you would concerning antidepressants.

NYT suggested other helpful tips. Ask your partner, family, and friends for help with the baby's needs and in the home. Don't try to be perfect or do too much.

Make time to visit friends or spend time alone with your partner. Rest as much as possible. Sleep when the baby is sleeping. And talk with other mothers or join a support group.

With appropriate treatment, postpartum depression usually goes away within a few months, wrote Mayo Clinic. Sometimes, postpartum depression lasts much longer.

It's important to continue treatment, even after one begins to feel better. Stopping treatment too early may lead to a relapse.


Carey, Benedict. "Postpartum Depression - Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment of Postpartum Depression - NY Times Health Information." Health News - The New York Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.

Phillips, Melissa Lee. "Treating postpartum depression." American Psychological Association (APA). N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.

"Postpartum Depression." www.medicinenet.com. MedicineNet, Inc, n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.

"Postpartum Depression (PPD) Treatments: Counseling and Antidepressants." WebMD - Better information. Better health. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.

"Postpartum depression: Treatments and drugs - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.

Reviewed August 22, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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