Postpartum Depression Treatment Options

There are several treatment options for postpartum depression (PPD). Treatment options and availabilities depend on several factors.

Determining which treatment to pursue is a decision that the mother will make with her physician and family to determine the best course of action.

Postpartum Depression Treatment

These factors include:

  • The severity of the condition
  • Medical history and background of the mother
  • Other individual needs

Postpartum depression treatments generally include therapy with a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. Another common treatment method, used in conjunction with therapy, is prescription medications like antidepressants.

Postpartum depression recovery should also include healthy lifestyle practices.

Mothers affected by PPD can take take of themselves by:

  • Getting enough rest
  • Staying hydrated
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Staying physically active through activities like walking or swimming

Postpartum Depression Therapy

Because postpartum depression is a mental health condition, it can be treated through psychotherapy. This includes talk therapy with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional.

For women who feel isolated, anxious and scared, talking about their feelings in a safe environment can be incredibly helpful. Mental health professionals use therapy to help women find ways to understand and cope with their feelings. Therapy also helps mothers solve problems and set realistic goals as they work to manage their postpartum depression.

There are two common types of psychotherapy that are referred to as talk therapy. These include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT). Depending on the person and their unique needs, one type of therapy may be more beneficial than the other.

Other forms of therapy can involve the spouse or other family members to promote a holistic approach to healing. Depending on the situation, relationship therapy for spouses may be an important factor in recovering from postpartum depression.

In general, therapy can help women develop a more positive way of acknowledging, addressing and recovering from their postpartum depression.

Learn More About Therapy Options

Postpartum Depression Medication

Another important component of well-rounded postpartum depression treatment is prescription medications recommended by a doctor or psychiatrist.

The choice of medication will depend on:

  • The severity of the condition
  • Whether or not the mother is breast feeding
  • The medical history of the woman
  • Other types of medications the mother may be taking

Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed type of medication for postpartum depression. Antidepressants work to elevate and stabilize the mood. This prevents postpartum depression symptoms such as mood swings, sadness and irritability. There are several classifications of antidepressants, and each one has a different chemical effect on the brain.

Other medications may be prescribed if the postpartum depression condition is more severe. This is common for cases of postpartum anxiety, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder and postpartum psychosis. These medications include anti-psychotic drugs which alter chemicals in the brain, changing behaviors, mood and emotions.

Learn the Top Medications

Postpartum Depression Antidepressants (SSRI)

Antidepressants are the most common forms of medications prescribed to women suffering from postpartum depression. Antidepressants work to balance a person’s neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that affect mood and emotions.

When antidepressants are taken for clinical purposes, the results include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced mood swings
  • Improved appetite
  • Other general improvements in well-being

It generally takes at least four weeks for antidepressants to start taking full effect. However, some people may feel better much sooner.

There are several types of antidepressants that are prescribed based on various factors. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are drugs that specifically improve serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is one type of neurotransmitter responsible for emotions and mood. SSRIs block the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain making it more readily available in the brain. This helps to elevate mood and reduce general symptoms of postpartum depression.

Other types of antidepressants include Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). This type improves levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine, another neurotransmitter. Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) are two other kinds of antidepressant medications.

Regardless of the type of antidepressant, they must be taken as instructed at the same time each day. Doing so improves their effectiveness in reducing postpartum depression symptoms.

Postpartum Depression Recovery

Full recovery for postpartum depression is possible. Each woman experiences this disorder in different ways. However, the condition generally lasts six months. With a combination of therapy, medication and healthy lifestyle choices, women can recover from PPD. Recovery allows mothers to live happy and healthy lives with their children and families.

Women facing postpartum depression must understand that their recovery is a journey. Their recovery will involve ups and downs and move through various stages. Support from family, friends and other women who have experienced PPD can add to a healthy recovery process.

Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist

There are generally two types of mental health professionals who can provide treatment for postpartum depression: psychologists and psychiatrists. Both professions work to treat mental conditions and improve emotional well-being. However, they have distinct differences in educational background, scope of practice and approach to therapy.


Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists do not attend medical school. Instead, they obtain a doctoral degree through a research-based education studying human behavior. Psychologists use different psychological testing tools that focus on the patient’s mind and emotions.

A psychologist observes and intervenes in patient behaviors. Therefore, a psychologist will pay close attention to their patient’s sleeping, eating, exercising patterns and more. They use these observations to determine how a patient’s behaviors are causing or solving the emotional suffering.


While psychiatrists are also focused on improving their patients’ mental and emotional well-being, they have a different approach to treatment. Psychiatrists have attended medical school. This means that their focus is on biological and neurological causes for postpartum depression and other mental conditions.

Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists are able to prescribe medications like antidepressants to help correct chemical deficiencies and imbalances that cause PPD. Because of the scientific approach to treatment, psychiatrists will also look to rule out other conditions that cause similar symptoms as postpartum depression, such as malnutrition or a thyroid disorder.

While psychologists and psychiatrists take different approaches to therapy, they both provide valuable treatments options to deliver a well-rounded and holistic approach to postpartum depression recovery. Team
Reviewed by:Kimberly Langdon M.D.

Medical Editor

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kimberly Langdon is a Doctor of Medicine and graduated from The Ohio State University in 1991. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Ohio State University Hospitals, Department of OB/GYN. Board-Certified in 1997, she is now retired from clinical practice after a long and successful career. Currently, she is the Founder and Chief Medical Officer of a Medical Device Company that is introducing a patented products to treat vaginal microbial infections without the need for drugs. She is an expert in Vaginal Infections, Menstrual disorders, Menopause, and Contraception.

Written by:

Jenna Carberg was diagnosed with postpartum depression following the birth of her daughter in 2016. It was a healthy birth but in following days, Jenna's mood changed quickly. Doctors suggested that it might be the "baby blues", but her husband Chris suggested she seek a second opinion. Jenna was diagnosed with postpartum depression and began a journey that lasted 9 long months with significant ups and downs. Jenna's mental health care and her experiences became a passion for her to share with the world. She and her husband Chris founded as a support website designed to help women suffering in silence and their loved ones.

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