Postpartum Depression Treatment
There are several treatment options for postpartum depression. Treatment options and availabilities depend on several factors including the severity of the condition and the medical history and background of the woman as well as other individual needs.
Determining which treatment to pursue is a decision that the affected woman will make with her physician and her family to determine the best course of action. Postpartum depression treatments generally include a combination of therapy with a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, and prescription medications such as antidepressants.
Postpartum depression recovery should also include healthy lifestyle practices such as plenty of rest, staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol and staying physically active such as through 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 and non-judgemental environment can be incredibly helpful. Mental health professionals use therapy to help women find ways to understand and cope with their feelings, solve problems and set realistic expectations and goals when it comes to their suffering with 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 individual person and their own unique needs, one type of therapy may be better suited than the other.
Other forms of therapy can involve the spouse as well as other family members to promote a holistic healing approach to mental wellbeing. Depending on the situation, relationship therapy for spouses may be an important factor in recovering from postpartum depression.
In general, therapy can help women shift towards a more positive and healthy way of acknowledging, addressing and recovering from their postpartum depression.
Postpartum Depression Medication
Another important component of receiving well-rounded postpartum depression treatment is prescription medications recommended by the individual’s 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
- What other types of medications she may be taking
The most commonly prescribed type of medication for postpartum depression is an antidepressant. Antidepressants work to elevate and stabilize the mood to stop postpartum depression symptoms such as mood swings, sadness and irritability. There are several classifications of antidepressants and each one works a little differently in its chemical effect on the brain.
Other medications besides antidepressants can be taken when the postpartum depression condition is more severe, such as with postpartum anxiety, postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, or postpartum psychosis. These medications may also include anti-psychotic drugs which work to alter chemicals in the brain, which can change behaviors, mood and emotions.
Postpartum Depression Antidepressants (SSRI)
Antidepressants are the most common forms of medications prescribed to women suffering from postpartum depression. Antidepressants work to balance out brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which affect mood and emotions.
When antidepressants are taken for clinical purposes, the results include better sleep, reduced mood swings, improved appetite and other general improvements in wellbeing. It generally takes 4 or more weeks for antidepressants to start taking full effect though some people may feel better much sooner.
There are several types of antidepressants that can be prescribed by doctors depending on a number of 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 then helps to elevate mood and reduce general symptoms of postpartum depression.
Other types of antidepressants include Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) which improve levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine – another neurotransmitter. Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) are two other types of antidepressant medications.
Regardless of the type of antidepressant being taken, they must be taken as instructed at the same time daily to improve their effectiveness in reducing postpartum depression symptoms.
Postpartum Depression Recovery
Postpartum depression is a condition in which a full recovery is possible. While each individual woman will experience this disorder in different ways, it generally lasts 6 months. With a combination of therapy, medication and healthy lifestyle choices, women can recover from this terrible condition and go on to live happy and healthy lives with their children and families.
Women who are facing postpartum depression must understand that their recovery is a journey that will go through ups and downs and follow a pattern of different stages in order to make a full recovery. Including family members and friends as well as seeking help from support groups is a healthy part of the recovery process.
Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist
When pursuing psychotherapy for postpartum depression, there are generally two types of mental health professionals who can provide treatment: psychologists and psychiatrists. Though these two professions both work to help treat mental conditions and improve emotional wellbeing, 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 which is a research-based education that studies human behavior. Psychologists use different psychological testing tools to help focus on the patient’s mind and emotions. The approach of a psychologist is to observe and intervene in patient behaviors. Therefore, a psychologist will pay close attention to their patient’s sleeping, eating and exercising patterns and determine how these are causing or solving the emotional suffering.
While psychiatrists are also focused on improving their patients’ mental and emotional wellbeing, they approach the treatment differently. Psychiatrists have attended medical school, which 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 are causing postpartum depression. 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.