Baby-safe treatments for postpartum depression

While it can sometimes be difficult to separate postpartum depression (PPD) out from the regular feelings of having a hard time, many people know when something is wrong, or when what they’re feeling veers out of the realm of normal. With PPD, as with many mood disorders, often the problem isn’t identifying the symptoms, it’s knowing what to do about them.

Different types of treatment

For many cases of PPD, healthcare providers recommend talk therapy to start, sometimes in conjunction with lifestyle modifications like a regular sleep schedule and routine exercise. For a large group of parents dealing with moderate PPD, lines of treatment that don’t involve medication can be highly effective.

For others, medication can be a key part of treatment and recovery from PPD. Often, a combination of medication and talk therapy is the most effective treatment.

Stigmas surrounding medication

Especially for breastfeeding moms, the idea of taking medication can feel impossible, or like the wrong choice. Depending on the medication a healthcare provider recommends, however, there’s a good chance that the amount of medication that is transmitted through breast milk will be minimal.

If you’re breastfeeding, and your healthcare provider suggests medication as a treatment for PPD or another mental health concern, you’ll talk through the benefits and risks associated with taking medication while breastfeeding. Often, if a healthcare provider prescribes medication to a breastfeeding woman, it is specifically because they’ve calculated that not using medication to treat PPD would pose more of a risk than the risk associated with the medication.

Untreated PPD and babies

PPD doesn’t always get in the way of parent-child bonding, but it definitely can do so. Without treatment, postpartum depression can last for months, or even years, and may eventually start to have an impact on a child’s emotional or language development.

Getting treatment for PPD can be or feel difficult, but it’s an action that new parents facing PPD can do to help ensure the health of the whole family.

Read more
  • “Postpartum psychiatric disorders.” MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health. MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  • “Postpartum depression facts.” National Institute of Mental Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  • “Postpartum depression.” Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 30 May 2018. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  • Kathryn P. Hirst, Christine Y. Moutier. “Postpartum major depression.” American Family Physician. American Academy of Family Physicians, 15 October 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  • Jean Y. Ko, et al. “Trends in postpartum depressive symptoms, 27 states, 2004, 2008, 2012.” Centers for Disease Control and Preventions. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 August 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
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