Dealing with postpartum depression can seem impossible. If you’re a mother facing this mental health condition, you are coping with a lot of things at the same time: recovering from pregnancy and childbirth, trying to care for a new baby or adjust to an adoption placement, and being responsible for all the same things you were before you gave birth. When you’re struggling with postpartum depression, every single task seems that much harder. Finding out how to treat postpartum depression may be at the top of your to-do list.
Fortunately, postpartum depression help is available — and you can find the support you need to get back to feeling like your own self. Postpartum depression is more common than you may think (about 1 in 8 women experience similar symptoms) and there are plenty of medical professionals who can help you get through this difficult time in your life.
If you are looking for ways to cope with postpartum depression, we always recommend that you contact your medical professional, first and foremost. They are the only ones who can officially diagnose any post-birth depression you may be experiencing and determine what kind of postpartum depression treatment your situation requires. While the information in this article is intended to help you better understand your options, it is not intended to be taken as medical advice and cannot replace the guidance of an experienced mental health professional.
How to Treat Postpartum Depression
When you ask your mental health professional, “How is postpartum depression treated today?” there are a few different methods they may describe. After asking you about your symptoms and situation, they will likely recommend one path over the other. Still, it can be helpful to incorporate a few different ways to cope with postpartum depression to give yourself the best chance at recovery.
If you want to learn more about how to cope with postpartum depression, there are a few different options that your doctor may present:
Some cases of postpartum depression arise from the imbalance in hormones and chemicals that occurs after childbirth. These changes can sometimes cause women to feel the side effects of postpartum depression. Therefore, they usually can be treated with medication.
There are typically two medical paths for how to help postpartum depression:
- Psychotherapy: This therapy involves talking through your concerns with a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional. The professional can offer better ways to cope with postpartum depression and its side effects, solve problems, set realistic goals and respond to situations in a positive way.
- Antidepressants: If necessary, your doctor may recommend an antidepressant. This medication can help to rebalance the hormones in your brain and alleviate your symptoms of depression. However, note that some antidepressants will enter your breastmilk if you are breastfeeding. Your doctor will work with you to weigh the pros and cons of antidepressants before prescribing them.
Overcoming postpartum depression through medication can take some trial and error as your doctor determines which path is best for you. It’s important to be patient and follow through with your treatment to get the proper postpartum depression help you need.
2. Lifestyle Changes
When you were pregnant, you were told to lead the healthiest life possible to give your baby the best start to their own life. The same tips you used to have a healthy pregnancy can be used as ways to cope with postpartum depression, too.
There are natural methods for how to cope with postpartum depression, but it’s important you only utilize them after you have already spoken to your doctor about your medication options. Oftentimes, different options for postpartum depression help work best when used together.
If you are struggling with symptoms of depression, try these tips:
- Get some exercise: Exercising naturally produces endorphins, hormones that promote happiness. Your medical provider can help you create a schedule for exercise after pregnancy that is right for you.
- Eat healthy: A well-balanced diet helps you feel better and can give you more energy to fight off the fatigue of postpartum depression.
- Make time for yourself: It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day requirements of raising a child and caring for a household. Ask for help when you need it, and take that extra time to do something that you enjoy or that makes you feel good (such as a hobby or a form of entertainment).
- Set realistic expectations: Today’s media sells a picture of a “perfect” mother who has everything under control at all times. Remember: This is not realistic. Don’t set extremely high expectations for yourself and your family; focus on what you can accomplish at certain points, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t reach the goals you’ve set.
3. Postpartum Depression Support Groups
Postpartum depression is a common struggle for women after giving birth, and postpartum depression help groups can connect you with women who can relate to the struggles you’re feeling right now. These groups may be led by a professional or may simply be a gathering of people to talk about issues, offer suggestions and provide a venting space with people who understand each other’s situations. It can also be a great support for coping with the everyday struggles of being a new mom, if this is your first child.
You can search for local postpartum depression support groups through Postpartum Support International. You can also search social media and other internet forums for postpartum depression online support groups. Your doctor may even help you get set up for postpartum depression group therapy, if you desire so.
A word of caution: Internet support groups can be helpful and hurtful. Remember that your doctor is the only one who can provide medical advice for your condition. If a support group is more harmful than helpful, step away and find another support group to turn to.
Still Feeling Depressed After Getting Postpartum Depression Help?
Sometimes, postpartum depression treatment solves the symptoms but not the cause of the problem. For some women, postpartum depression develops because of more than just the stress and exhaustion that comes from being pregnant and having a baby. For them, postpartum depression may be a symptom of their larger desire to not be a parent or raise a child — and finding themselves in that position can trigger a depressive episode.
If you think your postpartum depression is caused by your desire not to be parent, you are not alone — and there is help. If you have received medical postpartum depression treatment and are still feeling sad about your current situation, you have options.
First, if you think you might simply need more time to recover from your pregnancy and childbirth and prepare yourself to be a parent, you may consider a temporary guardianship. With this path, you can place your child in the custody of adults that you trust to keep him or her safe while you better your own situation. When you are ready to be the parent you want to be for your child, you can take custody back and start your parenting journey off on a more positive foot.
But, what if coping with postpartum depression reveals a bigger truth to you — that you have no real desire to be a parent at all?
If this is your situation, remember that you can always place your child for adoption. There are many caring people out there who are waiting for the opportunity to become a parent, and you can choose one of them to raise your child if you feel you are not mentally, physically or practically up to the task yourself. There is no shame in choosing adoption for your child after bringing him or her home; it is actually choosing the brave, selfless path to do what you think is best for your child. You can choose exactly who you wish to raise your baby, and you can even have a relationship with them and your child for years to come. Contact an adoption agency today for more information.
Remember: Overcoming postpartum depression is a journey that may take some time, but your mental health is worth it. Make sure to receive necessary postpartum depression treatment before making any life-changing choices. You are always the one to choose the best path for yourself and your child.