Understanding Postpartum Depression Therapy
Postpartum depression (PPD) therapy is a vital part of the recovery process. Recovery works with medication (such as antidepressants) to help relieve the symptoms of postpartum depression. It also helps when people understand the root causes of the condition.
What Is Postpartum Depression Therapy?
Through postpartum depression therapy, people work through their depression with the help of psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, or other mental health professionals.
Through therapy, the affected person talks about their symptoms. Mental health care providers teach coping tools in a safe and professional environment.
The ultimate goal of postpartum depression therapy is to heal the mother or other affected people from the effects of their disorder and help them attain a higher quality of life.
Before Therapy – Diagnosing Postpartum Depression
After giving birth, a woman will experience hormonal changes as her body adjusts to no longer being pregnant. Estrogen and progesterone will drop significantly, which can cause depression, anxiety, or mood swings for the first few weeks. This period is called the “baby blues” and is very common.
However, if these symptoms last more than a few weeks, occur alongside other symptoms, or appear within the first year after giving birth and linger, the Office of Women’s Health recommends scheduling a follow-up appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will perform a postpartum depression screening, which includes questions about any current mental health conditions and family history of depression or mental illness.
In some cases, more severe symptoms might indicate the rare condition of postpartum psychosis. Severe symptoms may include intrusive thoughts about harming the new baby, hallucinations, obsession with the new baby’s health and well-being, or suicidal thoughts. Postpartum psychosis requires immediate medical intervention for the health and safety of the new mother and her baby.
Upon receiving a postpartum depression diagnosis, your doctor will discuss your treatment options, which often include a combination of medication and therapy. Your doctor can usually provide a referral for mental health professionals that specialize in treating PPD.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that affects about 15% of women worldwide. If symptoms of depression also occur during pregnancy, PPD is categorized as perinatal depression.
There is no single cause of postpartum depression. However, some events can trigger the onset of PPD. Stressful life events, such as the death of a family member or loss of employment, can contribute to developing PPD.
Additional risk factors for developing postpartum depression include:
- Having depression or an anxiety disorder
- Difficult pregnancies
- Traumatic or difficult birth experiences
- Having a baby born with special needs
- Being particularly emotional or agitated during PMS
- Mental illnesses such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Bipolar Disorder
Types of Postpartum Depression Therapy
Therapy, or psychotherapy, is a broad profession with many different approaches. Though there are different types of therapy, they all seek to treat postpartum depression.
Some therapies may better suit different people or forms of postpartum depression. Some mental health care professionals specialize in specific therapy types, while others offer several forms of therapy.
Here are five standard therapies for mothers and others suffering from postpartum depression.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), also known as “talk therapy,” is perhaps one of psychiatry’s most well-known treatment options. People undergoing CBT discuss their feelings and thoughts so that the therapist assesses what thought patterns bring on depression and anxiety.
Therapists specializing in CBT will also provide the mother with coping skills and self-help tools so she can feel equipped to control and manage her symptoms.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is a therapy that relieves symptoms by exploring the causes of postpartum depression and other contributing factors. IPT helps people improve their relationships with better support and communication, thus building their confidence. IPT takes place over a 12- to 16-week period following a specific treatment course.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) addresses traumatic experiences involved in postpartum depression. EMDR is a valuable therapy for women with postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who may have experienced traumatic childbirth or other circumstances.
Using brain stimulation techniques, the therapist helps reprocess traumatic memories in a way that alleviates the emotional attachment to the trauma memories.
Group therapy or support groups help people understand postpartum depression by meeting others going through the same thing. Group therapy shows people how postpartum depression affects each family differently.
Listening to others share their experiences makes it easier for mothers to reflect on their struggles. Group therapy provides education about postpartum depression, helpful coping tools and validation from therapists and other group members, and a sense of social support from other new moms.
Groups like Postpartum Support International even offer online support meetings as a convenient option for many new parents.
Postpartum depression takes a serious toll on marriages and relationships. Couples therapy opens lines of communication while providing a safe space for each person’s concerns to be heard. Therapists facilitate conversations and help couples identify relationship patterns that can cause problems. From there, the therapist allows the couple to correct these patterns and restore their emotional connection.
Benefits of Postpartum Depression Therapy
There are countless benefits to pursuing postpartum depression therapy, regardless of the approach. Here are some benefits women and their families can expect from undergoing postpartum depression therapy.
Provides Long-Term Self-Help Skills
Postpartum depression therapy will help people learn emotional wellness and self-help tools to manage postpartum depression symptoms.
Self-care strategies such as mindfulness, meditation, and trigger recognition can help people cope with chronic depression and anxiety. These skills reduce the effects of depression while building confidence and increasing their quality of life.
Educates New Mothers About Their Condition
For many women, the scariest part of postpartum depression is not understanding or being confused about the condition. Because of this confusion, women may feel significant guilt and shame.
Working with a trained mental health professional can help mothers understand their depression. Therapy reinforces that the condition was not their fault. Therapy also validates the mother’s emotions and experiences in a friendly and empathetic way.
Treatment Progress Is Monitored
Working with mental health professionals is a great way to learn about postpartum depression and how to recover. Therapy allows women to work through their condition and understand the progress they make. Therapists can also make adjustments to treatment in response to the woman’s progress.
Therapy is a personal and vital way to treat postpartum depression. Therapy builds powerful, long-term mental and emotional habits that help anyone affected by postpartum depression.