What Does Treatment for Postpartum Depression Looks Like?
You didn’t get depressed overnight, so treatment won’t quickly get you better. The good news is you will start to see improvement within a few weeks.
Symptoms of PPD can resolve and worsen again, but eventually, you will get to a point where symptoms are managed and don’t adversely affect your ability to care for yourself and your children. You may also experience symptom flare-ups during your menstrual period due to hormone fluctuations.
Medications. Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant. If you are breastfeeding, there are antidepressants available that pose little risk of side effects your baby. Work with your doctor to determine the potential risks and benefits of taking an antidepressant to treat PPD.
Psychotherapy. Also called talk therapy, psychotherapy can help you to talk through your worries and feelings about motherhood. Therapy can help you find ways to cope, solve problems, set goals and learn to respond in positive ways.
Support Groups. If you would like to find a support group for PPD, Postpartum Support International is a good place to start. Support groups can offer helpful information and ideas to coping better and managing your parenting with PPD.
Natural Treatments. If you do not want to take antidepressants for treating PPD, you may want to discuss natural remedies with your doctor. There are many options but is important to remember PPD isn’t a condition to treat without the assistance of a doctor or a mental health provider, so it is important to tell your doctor about any natural treatments you are considering trying.
Lifestyle Changes. Lifestyle changes may also help relieve symptoms of PPD. Here are some changes to incorporate daily:
- Take care of your body. Try taking walks with your baby in a carrier or a stroller. Make healthy diet choices and get as much sleep as you can. Last, avoid drug and alcohol use.
- Don’t forget your basic needs. It is easy to forget about your own needs with a new baby at home. Make sure you are taking regular showers, getting dressed, running errands and visiting with family and friends.
- Be realistic. The dishes in the sink can wait. If you can ask for help, ask for it, and if not, make a list of practical goals and check them off as they get done.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Depression feeds on isolation so surround yourself with loved ones and people to talk to. If you cannot get out of the house, pick up the phone and call a friend or get involved in an online support group.
It is possible for PPD to resolve without treatment, but the more serious symptoms are, the less likely someone will recover fully from PPD.
How long it takes to recover depends on various factors, including the severity of symptoms, how long you have had symptoms, any previous history of depression, what your home environment is like, how much support you have, and how determined and focused you are with treatment.