Postpartum Depression Medication

Medication Options for Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression medication is an important part of treating PPD. Medications prescribed by licensed health care providers help reduce and manage symptoms for people who may be suffering from this condition.

Understanding PPD Medications

Postpartum depression medication is used to alter the brain’s neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that communicate various emotions, moods and behavioral functions.

By taking postpartum depression medication, the mother’s anxiety, sadness and irritability can decrease. Other symptoms like fatigue, loss of energy and loss of appetite can also improve over time.

Postpartum depression medication must be prescribed by a physician or psychiatrist. Different medications can be prescribed over a specific course of time as determined by your doctor. Most postpartum depression medications are taken daily. It normally takes one to four weeks before you notice their effects.

Types of Postpartum Depression Medication

There are different types of medications that can be taken for postpartum depression. The type of medication prescribed largely depends on the set of symptoms and the specific type of postpartum depression someone is suffering from.

Depending on the severity of the condition, doctors may prescribe two or more types of medications to be taken together. In these cases, the postpartum depression medications work on different sets of symptoms. By taking several medications together most symptoms can be managed.

The following are the different types of medications that may be prescribed to treat symptoms of postpartum depression.


Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed for postpartum depression. Most antidepressants are called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are thought to work by improving the brain’s ability to produce and absorb serotonin more effectively. Serotonin is a natural neurotransmitter. It is responsible for communicating messages of mood, emotion and behavior throughout the brain.

When serotonin production and absorption improves, so too does the person’s mood. This is why SSRIs are effective at treating PPD symptoms like chronic sadness, irritability and anxiousness.

Another form of antidepressant is the Norepinephrine-Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (NSRIs), which works the same way as an SSRI but also includes norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter responsible for mobilizing the brain and body into action. Other forms of antidepressants include tricyclics antidepressants (TCAs) and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs).


In more severe cases of postpartum depression, another drug type called antipsychotics can be prescribed. These drugs address obsessive and compulsive thoughts and actions as well as hallucinations and delusions. Antipsychotic medications are also used to help reduce extreme mood swings. For this reason, antipsychotic drugs can be beneficial for women struggling with postpartum OCD or postpartum psychosis, which cause severe symptoms.

Physicians may prescribe antipsychotic medications in conjunction with SSRIs in order to treat all the various symptoms of extreme postpartum depression disorders.

Benefits of Postpartum Depression Medications

Postpartum depression medications can offer many benefits for women who are suffering from debilitating depression and anxiety symptoms.

Here are some of the benefits of postpartum depression medications.

Near-Immediate Symptom Relief

For women who are suffering from postpartum depression, relief can’t come soon enough. Thankfully, a course of postpartum depression medications can begin to take effect and relieve symptoms in one to four weeks. Antidepressants start working at different rates in each person, so some may experience relief even sooner.

Short-Term Treatment

Many women take antidepressants to treat postpartum depression is that they know it provides short-term treatment. Because postpartum depression eventually heals, there’s no need to be permanently taking medications to treat it.

You may find that taking medication for postpartum depression will be helpful for the first 6-12 months. You can stop taking them once you’ve fully recovered.

Availability of Options

Because there are many different types and brands of postpartum depression medications, there are plenty of options to suit each person’s needs. If you experience negative side effects or no effects at all on one medication, your doctor can identify a better option for you.

Concerns About Postpartum Depression Medications

While postpartum depression medications such as antidepressants are prescribed in safe and controlled methods, some women may have concerns about how the medication will affect them if they are breastfeeding.

SSRIs, in particular, are thought to be safe to take during breastfeeding and they should not affect or harm the baby. Other types of medications may possibly have an effect on breast milk. You should address any concerns with your doctor if you have questions about breastfeeding while taking postpartum depression medications.

Postpartum depression medications such as antidepressants or antipsychotics are prescribed as a course of treatment and therefore cannot be stopped abruptly. It is important to speak to your doctor before you stop taking prescription medications in order to prevent any possible negative side effects. 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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