Medication is a key part of treatment that leads to recovery for many women with postpartum depression (PPD), but it’s not the only way to approach treatment. For many people, talk therapy is at the center of a PPD treatment plan. For more mild cases of PPD, studies find that talk therapy can be as effective as medication. In addition to talk therapy, certain lifestyle changes can be helpful for lessening PPD symptoms.
While individual psychotherapy is the most commonly prescribed method of talk therapy recommended for the treatment of postpartum depression, other types of therapy – including couples’ therapy, relationship therapy, and support groups – can be beneficial therapy options as well.
Therapy can help PPD patients figure out new strategies for dealing with symptoms and emotions. Therapy can also help patients set realistic goals, and reframe their mindsets in positive ways. Therapy can also help people figure out how to ask for help in ways that work best for them. It can also generally help people with PPD feel heard and know that their feelings are respected.
Medications and therapy are the two main pillars of treatment for postpartum depression, but certain lifestyle modifications – or changes to daily habits – may also be helpful in relieving PPD symptoms, in addition to treatment.
- Sleep: Lack of sleep and irregular sleep patterns are both factors that can contribute to PPD and signs of PPD. Regulating a sleep schedule can help people cut down on the risk factor of not getting enough sleep and be able to notice changes in their sleep habits more easily.
- Exercise: Exercise produces endorphins, which can naturally boost mood, even during PPD. Exercise isn’t a magic bullet, but having a modest, regular exercise routine can be a helpful part of recovery from PPD.
- Additional treatment: While the evidence isn’t necessarily conclusive, it has been suggested that therapies that can be helpful for other mood disorders – like bright light therapy, which is usually a treatment for seasonal affective disorder – may be helpful for treating PPD. When working with a therapist for PPD, don’t hesitate to ask them to walk you through how different types of treatment may or may not be helpful in your particular case.
There is no one cure for PPD, but working with a team of healthcare providers who all have your individual case in mind can help you find the combination of treatments that work best for you. This plan may or may not include medication. Whether it does or not, you may find that a combination of lifestyle modifications and therapies are key parts of recovery as well.
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- Shannon K. Crowley, Shawn D. Youngstedt. “Efficacy of light therapy for perinatal depression: a review.”Journal of Physiological Anthropology. 31(1): 15. June 6 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3518242/.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Postpartum Depression.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 11 August 2015. 21 June 2018. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20376623.
- Melissa Lee Phillips. “Treating postpartum depression.” American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association, 42(2): 46. February 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2018. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/02/postpartum.aspx.
- “Breastfeeding & Psychiatric Medication.” MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health. MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health. Retrieved 21 June 2018. https://womensmentalhealth.org/specialty-clinics/breastfeeding-and-psychiatric-medication/.