When Should A New Mom Seek Professional Medical Treatment For Symptoms Related To Postpartum Depression
A new mom should seek professional help when:
- Symptoms persist beyond two weeks.
- She is unable to function normally; she cant cope with everyday situations.
- She has thoughts of harming herself or her baby.
- She is feeling extremely anxious, scared, and panicked most of the day.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/01/2018.
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Prevention Of Postpartum Depression
If youre planning to become pregnant, or as soon as you do, its important to tell your doctor about any history of mental illness, especially previous episodes of postpartum depression. Your doctor can then be sure to check in with you throughout your pregnancy for signs or symptoms of depression.
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Natural Treatment For Postpartum Depression
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
According to researchers at The University of Kansas Medical Center, there is a growing body of clinical evidence that suggests that low dietary intake or tissue levels of omega-3 fatty acids are associated with postpartum depression. Omega-3 benefits are known to include relieving depression and feelings of anxiety. Low tissue levels of DHA are reported in patients with postpartum depression and the physiological demands of pregnancy and lactation put a childbearing women at particular risk of experiencing a loss of DHA. Animal studies indicate that decreased brain DHA in postpartum females leads to several depression-associated neurobiological changes that inhibits the brains ability to respond to stress appropriately.
A 2014 study involving female fats found that menhaden fish oil benefits include exerting beneficial effects on postpartum depression and decreasing the biomarkers related to depression, such as corticosterone and pro-inflammatory cytokines.
A review published in the Journal of Midwifery and Womens Health discusses the recent research on omega-3s and womens mental health, with a particular focus on the perinatal period. These studies include population studies examining fish consumption and studies testing the efficacy of EPA and DHA as treatments for depression. The majority of studies indicate that EPA is able to treat depression either alone or in combination with DHA and/or antidepressant medications.
Depression In New Mothers
Having a baby is stressfulno matter how much youve looked forward to it or how much you love your child. Considering the sleep deprivation, new responsibilities, and lack of time for yourself, its no surprise that a lot of new moms feel like theyre on an emotional rollercoaster.
In fact, mild depression and mood swings are so common in new mothers that it has its own name: the baby blues.
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Who Is Affected By Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is common. As many as 50 to 75% of new mothers experience the “baby blues” after delivery. Up to 15% of these women will develop a more severe and longer-lasting depression, called postpartum depression, after delivery. One in 1,000 women develop the more serious condition called postpartum psychosis.
Get A Support System In Place
Before your babys birth, get your support system in place so you can reach out when you need help. Friends and family want to pitch in, so let them. Dont be shy about asking your partner, family member or friend to hold the baby while you take a shower or letting your mother do a load of laundry. Even five minutes of venting to a pal about how sore your nipples are can make things more bearable.
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See A Professional Before Birth
If youve already experienced depression or PPD during pregnancy or are at increased risk of developing postpartum depression for another reason, seek help from an expert before your babys arrival.
If you’re on an effective medication, don’t stop taking it without supervision from your doctor. If you become depressed during pregnancy, seek help; your practitioner may recommend psychotherapy and/or medication.
Some physicians prescribe low doses of antidepressants or therapy in the last trimester of pregnancy or right after delivery to help prevent PPD. Either way, getting a handle on the issue as early as possible will make things easier after you give birth.
Where To Find Support For Postpartum Depression
First, consult with your OB-GYN to address your physical symptoms. If youre interested, your doctor can refer you to a therapist or other local resources. Your local hospital is another good place to get referrals.
You might feel more comfortable reaching out to others whove been through the same thing. They understand what youre feeling and can offer nonjudgmental support. Consider joining a group for new mothers. Some of them may also be living with depression, anxiety, or postpartum depression.
These organizations can help guide you to the appropriate resources:
- Postpartum Depression Support Groups in the U.S. and Canada: This is a comprehensive list of support groups around the United States and Canada.
- Postpartum Education for Parents at 805-564-3888: Trained volunteers answer the warmline 24/7 to provide support.
- Postpartum Progress: This organization has information and support for pregnant women and new moms who have postpartum depression and anxiety.
- Postpartum Support International at 800-944-4PPD : This resource offers education, online support, and information about local resources.
If you dont like one support system, its okay to try another. Keep trying until you find the help you need.
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What Exactly Is Postpartum Depression
Postpartum refers to the period following childbirth. Postpartum depression is a severe and long-lasting type of depression linked to this time.2, 10 While postpartum depression, or PPD, is frequently described as depression that starts within four weeks of babys birth, symptoms can arise at any time within the first year postpartum, and possibly even before delivery.2, 3, 10 Without treatment, theres no telling how long it will last, but it will not necessarily go away on its own or by wishing it would, and it can have serious consequences for mom and baby.3
Pharmacological Treatments For Postpartum Depression
A small but growing literature suggests that postpartum depression can be thought of as a variant of major depression that responds similarly to antidepressant medication., Concerns unique to pharmacologic treatment of PPD include metabolic changes in the postpartum period, exposure of the infant to medication in breast milk, the effect of depression and treatment on the ability of the depressed mother to care for a new baby, and the perceived stigma of being seen as a bad mother for requiring medication. These factors, as well as the womans level of distress, access to care, and experience with past treatment may influence the decision of the patient and her caregiver regarding the choice of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments for PPD. Data comparing the effectiveness of medication against other treatment modalities for PPD are scarce, though do suggest that medications are at least as effective as most psychological interventions based on effect size. To date, four randomized controlled studies on the treatment of PPD with antidepressant medications have been published, along with several open trials. Additionally, two randomized studies have looked at the prevention of PPD with antidepressant medication.
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Final Thoughts About Postpartum Depression
Now that you have these tools in on how to help treat postpartum depression you can slowly start to heal and cope with your depression.
Remember to always talk with your doctor and tell them sooner rather than later about how you are feeling.;You can start journaling your thoughts if speaking out loud is to difficult.;You can also start exercising, take the time to go outside, start on vitamins, and take care of yourself by talking about it.
Psychological And Psychosocial Treatments For Postpartum Depression
Many mothers with postpartum depression are hesitant to take antidepressants due to concerns about infant exposure to medication through breast milk or concerns about potential side effects, and therefore often prefer psychological treatments.,, Although relatively few studies have systematically investigated nonpharmacologic treatments for PPD, existing research supports the use of both psychological treatments , as well as psychosocial interventions, such as nondirective counseling. A Cochrane meta-analysis of ten randomized controlled trials of psychosocial and psychological treatments for postpartum depression concluded that both psychosocial and psychological interventions are effective in decreasing depression and are viable treatment options for postpartum depression.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Peer and partner support
Comparisons of psychological and psychosocial treatments
A recent meta-analysis compared psychological and psychosocial interventions for PPD, including CBT, IPT, and nondirective counseling, as well as peer support. This study did not find any difference in effect size for any of these treatments, and concluded that different types of psychological interventions seem equally effective for treatment of PPD.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression
Unlike baby blues, symptoms of postpartum depression are more intense and last longer than two weeks. They may even interfere with your ability to complete daily tasks or care for your baby.
Signs and symptoms may include:
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks
- Lack of interest in or difficulty bonding with your baby
- Lack of sleep or too much sleep
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Weight loss or gain
- Withdrawing from friends and family
How Is Postpartum Psychosis Treated
Several medications are used to treat psychosis. They may be used alone or in combination and include:
- mood stabilizers
These medications can help control your symptoms and keep you stabilized. If they dont, another option is electroconvulsive therapy . ECT uses electrical currents to trigger chemical changes in the brain. Its usually well-tolerated and can be effective in treating postpartum psychosis.
Once youre stabilized, your doctors may recommend that you consult with a therapist who can help you work through your feelings.
Treatment should continue even after youve been discharged from the hospital. As you recover, your medications may need some adjusting.
If you also have bipolar or another mental health disorder, youll need to continue to follow your treatment plan for that health issue as well.
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Postpartum Depression Treatment Options
There are several treatment options for postpartum depression . 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.
- 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 physically active through activities like walking or swimming
Know What Symptoms To Look For
The postpartum period is an emotional roller coaster for most women. An estimated 80% of new moms experience the “baby blues,” says Payne, which is different from perinatal depression and anxiety. “Baby blues is really a natural phenomenon that occurs in the immediate postpartum period.”
So how do you know whether you’re experiencing baby blues or depression? Here are the key symptoms of depression:
- Symptoms last every day for two weeks or more: Baby blues usually go away after a couple of weeks, but if you’re depressed or have an anxiety disorder, you’ll experience the symptoms every day for more than two weeks.
- Sadness, crying, trouble concentrating: A persistent low mood is a classic symptom. “Many women, when they’re depressed, have low mood, can’t get out of bed, have trouble concentrating, trouble eating properly, don’t sleep well,” Payne says.
- Struggling with everyday activities:;If you’re struggling with simple everyday tasks and feeling disconnected from your baby, it’s a sign you need help. “What I tend to look for are women who are barely getting themselves together and taking care of the baby,” Payne says.
Many women who wrote to us said they felt detached from their baby. “I was afraid I would never love him,” says Reddick, “and thought that this bond between a mother and child, that love that’s so infallible, I was afraid I would never feel that because I didn’t feel it in the beginning.”
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What Are The Baby Blues
The baby blues are the least severe form of postpartum depression. Approximately 50% to 75% of all new mothers will experience some negative feelings after giving birth. Normally these feelings occur suddenly four to five days after the birth of the baby.The;most common symptoms include:
- Crying for no apparent reason
- Mood swings with irritability and anxiousness
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Change in eating and sleeping
While these symptoms are quite unpleasant, they typically resolve on their own within a week to two weeks. Getting as much rest as possible and having a good support system can help these symptoms seem less severe.If you or someone you know is struggling with any form of postpartum depression, please contact a physician, a friend, or the American;Pregnancy Association so that the appropriate help can be located.
Compiled using information from the following sources:Williams Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 55.MedlinePlus . Bethesda : National Library of Medicine ; . Postpartum Depression; . Available from: Depression during and after Pregnancy Fact Sheet,
Who Does It Affect
Postpartum depression can affect anyone. Although its more commonly reported by mothers, it can affect any new parentsboth moms and dadsand it can affect parents who adopt. Postpartum depression is likely caused by many different factors that work together, including family history, biology, personality, life experiences, and the environment .
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Medications For Postpartum Depression
You and your doctor will need to make a careful decision about the use and choice of antidepressants if youâre breastfeeding. Some antidepressants are secreted in small amounts in breast milk. Other medications, such as lithium, are more controversial in breastfeeding because of concerns that they may cause infant toxicity, although there is debate about whether lithium poses a real risk.
Talk to your doctor to determine if the benefits of antidepressant therapy outweigh the risk. If you take an antidepressant, youâll probably be advised to take it for at least 6 months to a year to avoid a relapse and then to taper it off or continue it, depending on your symptoms and history.
Also, if youâve had a previous episode of postpartum depression, your doctor may suggest that you take preventive medicine shortly after the baby is born or during pregnancy.
Most antidepressants donât pose any major risks to a developing fetus, although all medications have potential risks. Some antidepressants, including the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors Celexa, Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac, have been associated with cardiac and cranial defects when taken early in the pregnancy. Older reports that some tricyclic antidepressants may cause limb deformities have not been confirmed in larger, more modern studies.
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Also visit the online treatment locators.
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Psychotherapy And Postpartum Depression
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is commonly prescribed alone or with antidepressants to treat postpartum depression. Your doctor can refer you to a qualified mental health professional who specializes in treating postpartum depression.
Youâll meet with a counselor on a regular basis to talk. Theyâll ask about your life, and itâs important that you answer honestly. You wonât be judged for what you tell, and whatever you talk about will be just between the two of you.
Your counselor will teach you how to look at some things differently and how to change certain habits to help yourself feel better. There are two common types of therapy for women with postpartum depression:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. You and your counselor work together to identify, then change, thoughts and behaviors that are harmful to your mental health.
- Interpersonal therapy. Your therapist helps you better understand how you behave in your relationships and how to work through any problems.
Other Postpartum Depression Treatments
Your doctor may also recommend one or more of the following postpartum depression treatments:
- Psychotherapy .;Cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy are often effective in pregnant and postpartum women. Youll meet one-on-one with a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist or other mental health provider who can help you to solve problems and cope with your feelings.
- Light therapy.;Bright light therapy has been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression, though experts say some results are conflicting and more research needs to be done. During light therapy, youll sit with your eyes open in front of a light box that mimics daylight, which can cause a positive biochemical change that can help ease symptoms.
- Acupuncture.;Some research suggests that acupuncture can help reduce symptoms of depression.
- Support groups.;There are plenty of postpartum depression support groups . Talking with others who are experiencing the same thing may help you feel less alone, and you may pick up tips that can help you better handle your symptoms and feelings. But although PPD support groups can be helpful, they shouldnt replace medication or talk therapy.
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