What lies ahead: recovering from postpartum depression

Recovery from postpartum depression is so much more than asking for help.

Every parent is going to have their own recovery process, and comparing yourself to others’ treatment plans and timelines is often more harmful than helpful. During this time, it’s important to be patient and gentle with yourself. Recovery may not be as speedy as you might hope for, but time spent working towards your own mental health is always time well spent.

If you’ve been diagnosed with PPD, taking time for yourself to recover is an important part of being a parent. Untreated PPD can lead to other problems, but when treated, PPD is temporary, and is treatable with the appropriate professional help. About 90% of women who have postpartum depression can be treated successfully with medication or a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Participation in a support group may also be helpful.

Seeking treatment as soon as possible can lead to lessening symptoms sooner and to shortening how long symptoms last. Although recovery can feel slow, and medication can take several weeks to take effect, while you are recovering from postpartum depression, you will probably see an improvement from month to month. Be aware that your symptoms may be more likely to flare up before a menstrual period because of fluctuations in your hormones.

Along the road to wellness, there will be bad days and better days. As you recover, some good days will sneak in and you may hardly notice them except in hindsight. At some point, the good days will outnumber the bad, and then you are over the worst of it. Here are a few tips to encourage more good days:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Find time to exercise
  • Surround yourself with a supportive network of family and friends
  • Eat regular, nourishing meals
  • Rely on others (i.e. ask someone you trust to watch your little one so that you can have a much-needed break)

Many different factors can influence a parent’s road to recovery. Postpartum depression recovery looks different for everyone who faces it, depending on the severity of the illness, how soon an individual seeks treatment after symptoms begin, the effectiveness of the treatment plan, other life factors contributing to depressive symptoms, and past medical and mental health issues. If you are ever unsure whether your treatment plan is working, trust your instincts. Update your provider on your current status, and ask questions about your expected course of treatment and how your progress can improve. If this doesn’t work, consider looking into a second option, expanding your team to include other mental health professionals, or talking about alternate medication options.

Read more
  • “Depression: Care and Treatment.” ClevelandClinic. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 2014. Web.
  • “Depression: Treatment.” ADAA. Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2016. Web.
  • “Postpartum depression facts.” NIMH. NIH Publication No. 13-8000 from National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS, Jun 2016. Web.
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