Your Total Guide to Understanding How Postpartum Depression Is Treated

by | Feb 21, 2024

Postpartum depression is an often misunderstood condition that casts a shadow over what is typically viewed as a joyful time in a woman’s life. With symptoms that go beyond the common “baby blues,” postpartum depression requires a nuanced and compassionate approach to treatment.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the multifaceted world of postpartum depression, exploring everything from its initial diagnosis to the broad spectrum of treatment options available. Our goal is to illuminate the path to recovery, offering hope and practical solutions to those navigating this challenging condition. 

Whether you’re experiencing it firsthand, supporting a loved one, or simply seeking to expand your knowledge, this guide provides clarity and support every step of the way.

Understanding postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that some women experience after giving birth. It makes them feel sad, anxious, and overwhelmed. It’s actually pretty common, affecting around one in seven new moms. But the good news is that there are ways to treat it and help women feel better.

A woman and a baby playing on the floor, bonding and enjoying quality time together

What causes postpartum depression?

After giving birth, a woman’s body goes through a lot of changes. Hormone levels drop, there’s a lack of sleep, and, of course, taking care of a new baby is really exhausting. 

All of these things might contribute to feelings of depression. Plus, there’s a lot of pressure to be a perfect mom, which also makes things more challenging.

The first step in treating postpartum depression is recognizing the signs and symptoms. You might notice that a new mom seems really sad or tearful, has trouble sleeping or eating, or doesn’t seem like herself. It’s important for the new mom and her loved ones to be aware of these signs so that they can get help.

So, what can be done to treat postpartum depression? Well, there are a few different options. Therapy, or talking to a counselor, is often beneficial. It allows the new mom to talk about her feelings and learn new ways to cope. 

Some moms may also benefit from medication, like antidepressants, to help balance their mood. It’s really important for the new mom to work with her doctor to find the right treatment plan for her.

In addition to therapy and medication, there are some things that new moms can do to help themselves feel better. Getting regular exercise, eating healthy foods, and making time for self-care will all make a big difference. It’s also important for new moms to ask for help when needed. Whether it’s from a partner, family member, or friend, having support is so important during this time.

As a friend, you also play a significant role in supporting a new mom with postpartum depression. Being there to listen and offer a helping hand will mean a lot. Encouraging her to get the help she needs and reminding her that she’s not alone is also comforting.

It’s also important to know that postpartum depression is temporary and treatable. With the right help and support, most women do get better. So, if you know a new mom who might be struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out and offer your support. It makes a world of difference.

I hope this helps you understand postpartum depression a little better. It’s a tough time for many new moms, but with the right treatment and support, they will start feeling like themselves again. 

Diagnosing postpartum depression

Diagnosing postpartum depression is a crucial step in getting the right help and support. It usually starts when a new mom, or those close to her, notice persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness that don’t seem to fade away after the first couple of weeks following childbirth. 

Healthcare providers, like obstetricians, pediatricians, or mental health professionals, play a key role in the diagnosis. 

They might use specific screening tools, such as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), a questionnaire designed to identify symptoms of PPD. This tool asks about the intensity of certain feelings over the past seven days, helping to differentiate between common postpartum emotional experiences and more serious conditions like PPD.

During a consultation, the doctor will likely discuss the mother’s feelings, thoughts, and daily activities. They’ll want to understand how these feelings are impacting her ability to care for herself and her baby and how they’re affecting her daily life. It’s not merely about the presence of sad feelings; it’s about their severity, frequency, and impact.

It’s also important to rule out other causes of these symptoms. Sometimes, physical health issues after childbirth, like thyroid imbalances or anemia, mimic or exacerbate depression symptoms. The doctor might order some tests to rule these out.

Finally, the timing of symptom onset and their persistence are key factors. PPD can develop anywhere from a few weeks to a year after childbirth. A PPD diagnosis typically comes into play when these symptoms persist beyond the first two weeks postpartum and significantly impact the mother’s ability to function.

Getting a diagnosis is a relief for many mothers, as it validates their experiences and opens the door to a range of effective treatments. It’s the first step on the path to recovery, helping mothers regain their sense of self and enjoy their time with their new baby.

Mother cradling baby at window shows bond and postpartum challenges

Treatment options for postpartum depression

Postpartum depression is a very real and very serious condition that affects many new moms. It’s important to know that postpartum depression is not something you can “snap out of” or “get over” on your own. It is a medical condition that requires treatment.

There are several treatment options available for postpartum depression, and it’s important to work with a doctor to find the right one for you. Here are some of the most common treatment options:

  1. Therapy: Talk therapy, also known as counseling or psychotherapy, is very effective in treating postpartum depression. A therapist will help you work through your feelings and develop coping strategies. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a specific type of therapy that has been shown to be particularly effective for treating postpartum depression.
  2. Medication: Antidepressant medications are also very helpful in treating postpartum depression. These medications balance the chemicals in your brain that affect your mood. We’ll talk about them more below.
    It’s important to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking medication while breastfeeding, as some medications will pass through breast milk to your baby.
  3. Support groups: Connecting with other moms going through similar struggles is often very comforting and helpful. There are many support groups for moms with postpartum depression, both in person and online. Talking to other moms who understand what you’re going through will help you feel less alone and more supported.
  4. Lifestyle changes: Taking care of yourself is incredibly important when you’re dealing with postpartum depression. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, and finding time for self-care. Exercise has also been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression, so finding ways to move your body regularly can be very helpful.
  5. Alternative treatments: Some moms find relief from postpartum depression through alternative treatments such as acupuncture, massage, herbal supplements, or TMS therapy

It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience with postpartum depression is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s okay to try different treatment options and see what works best for you. 

The most important thing is to reach out for help and not try to handle postpartum depression on your own. With the right treatment, you’ll feel better and enjoy being a mom to your new baby.


Medication is often used to treat postpartum depression when therapy and lifestyle changes aren’t enough. There are different types of medications that help with postpartum depression, and it’s important to work with a doctor to find the right one for you.

One common type of medication used to treat postpartum depression is called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, which helps improve mood and reduce feelings of depression. Some examples of SSRIs include Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro.

Another type of medication that may be used is serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Like SSRIs, SNRIs work by increasing levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Examples of SNRIs include Cymbalta and Effexor.

In some cases, doctors may also prescribe other types of antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These medications affect different neurotransmitters in the brain and may be used if SSRIs or SNRIs aren’t effective.

It’s important to remember that medication for postpartum depression takes some time to start working, and it’s essential to take them consistently as prescribed by your doctor. It’s also essential to communicate with your doctor about any side effects or concerns you may have while taking medication.

Although medication helps treat postpartum depression, it’s often used in combination with therapy and lifestyle changes for the best results. Working closely with a doctor and mental health professional helps ensure you find the right treatment plan for you.

Woman on floor by crib, postpartum, PPD

Lifestyle adjustments and supportive measures

One of the most important things a new mother can do is to take care of herself. This means getting enough rest, eating well-balanced meals, and getting regular exercise. It may sound simple, but it will make a big difference in how a mother feels. 

When caring for a new baby, it’s easy to forget about themselves, but taking the time to prioritize self-care positively impacts mood and overall well-being.

In addition to taking care of yourself, it’s important for a new mother to reach out for help and support. This often means leaning on friends and family for assistance with childcare, household chores, or simply someone to talk to. 

It might also mean joining a support group for mothers who are experiencing postpartum depression. Talking to others going through the same thing will help a new mother feel less alone and more supported.

Another important lifestyle adjustment is to make time for activities and hobbies that bring joy and relaxation. Whether it’s reading, gardening, or going for a walk, finding time for enjoyable activities helps lift the spirits and provide a much-needed break from the stresses of new motherhood.

In addition to these lifestyle adjustments, supportive measures are also crucial in treating postpartum depression. Supportive measures include involving the father or partner in the care of the baby and the treatment of postpartum depression. 

It’s important for both parents to work together as a team and to communicate openly about their feelings and experiences. This creates a supportive and nurturing environment for the new mother and helps her feel less alone in her struggles.

Emerging treatment options

Several emerging treatment options for postpartum depression are giving hope to many new mothers. One promising treatment option is the use of hormone therapy to rebalance the hormones that contribute to postpartum depression. 

While these emerging treatments are still being studied and are not yet widely available, they represent a ray of hope for new mothers who are struggling with postpartum depression. As always, it’s important to talk to your doctor about new treatment options and work together to find the best solution.

A woman holding a baby in her arms, symbolizing postpartum joy and motherhood

Navigating treatment: challenges and considerations

Navigating treatment for postpartum depression is a challenging and overwhelming process. As a new mom, it’s important to understand that seeking help and finding the right treatment plan is the first step toward feeling better. There are a few challenges and considerations to keep in mind when it comes to treating postpartum depression.

One challenge that many new moms face is the stigma surrounding mental health issues. It’s difficult to admit that you’re struggling, especially when there’s pressure to be the perfect mom. 

However, it’s important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Speaking up about your symptoms and reaching out for support is crucial to getting the help you need.

Another consideration to keep in mind is the potential side effects of medication. While medications are an effective treatment for postpartum depression, it’s important to discuss the potential risks and benefits with your healthcare provider. Finding the right medication and dosage sometimes takes some trial and error, so it’s important to be patient and open-minded during this process.

Therapy is also an important component of treatment for postpartum depression. However, finding the right therapist and scheduling regular appointments is challenging for new moms with busy schedules. It’s important to prioritize self-care and make time for therapy sessions, even if it means asking for help from friends and family members.

In addition to traditional treatments, it’s important to consider alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. These holistic approaches complement traditional treatments and provide additional support for managing symptoms of postpartum depression.

Navigating treatment for postpartum depression is overwhelming, but with the right support and guidance, it is possible to find a treatment plan that works for you. Remember that taking care of yourself is essential to being the best mom you can be, and seeking help is a crucial step toward feeling better.

Depiction of a woman next to a crib, highlighting postpartum challenges

Stigma and barriers to seeking help

Stigma and barriers to seeking help for postpartum depression are unfortunately common, but it’s important to understand that it’s okay to ask for help. There are many reasons why new moms may feel hesitant or ashamed to seek treatment for postpartum depression.

One big reason is the stigma surrounding mental health. Many people still believe that mental health issues are a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of. This sometimes makes new moms feel like they need to keep their feelings to themselves and not seek help. 

It’s important to remember that mental health issues, including postpartum depression, are like any other medical condition and deserve proper treatment and support.

Another barrier to seeking help is the fear of judgment from others. New moms may worry about what others will think if they admit they’re struggling with postpartum depression. They may fear being seen as a bad mother or unable to handle the responsibilities of parenthood. 

It’s important for new moms to remember that seeking help for postpartum depression doesn’t make them bad parents. In fact, it shows strength and courage to recognize when help is needed.

Access to mental health resources is also a barrier for many new moms. Some may not have access to affordable or convenient mental health services, or they may not know where to turn for help. This makes it difficult for new moms to seek treatment for postpartum depression. 

It’s important for healthcare providers to connect new moms with the resources they need and to make mental health services more accessible to all.

Additionally, cultural beliefs and practices also play a role in preventing new moms from seeking help for postpartum depression. Some cultures may stigmatize mental health issues or view them as a sign of weakness. 

This makes it hard for new moms to feel comfortable reaching out for support. It’s important for healthcare providers to be sensitive to cultural beliefs and practices and to provide respectful and inclusive support.

Post-treatment and relapse prevention

Now that we’ve talked about the different treatments for postpartum depression, let’s discuss what happens after treatment and how to prevent a relapse.

After receiving treatment for postpartum depression, it’s important to continue with any prescribed medications or therapy sessions as directed by your healthcare provider. It’s also important to keep up with self-care practices, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in regular physical activity. These practices can help support your mental and emotional well-being.

It’s also important to have a strong support system in place. This can include family, friends, and other moms who have experienced postpartum depression. Having people to talk to and lean on for support will make a big difference in how you’re feeling.

In addition to continuing with treatment and self-care practices, it’s important to be aware of the signs of a potential relapse. If you notice any symptoms of depression returning, it’s important to reach out for help right away. This could include increased feelings of sadness or hopelessness, changes in sleep or appetite, or a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy.

If you do experience a relapse, don’t be hard on yourself. It’s a common part of the recovery process, and it’s important to seek help and support as soon as possible. Your healthcare provider will work with you to adjust your treatment plan and provide additional support to help you get back on track.

In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend ongoing maintenance therapy to help prevent a relapse. This could include regular therapy sessions or a lower dose of medication to help support your mental and emotional well-being.

Remember, postpartum depression is a treatable condition, and with the right support and treatment, you can recover and thrive as a new mom. Take care of yourself, reach out for help when you need it, and know that you’re not alone in this journey.

TMS therapy at Brain Health Center

If you or a loved one is navigating the complex journey of postpartum depression, know that you’re not alone and that there is a way forward. At Brain Health Center, we’re proud to offer TMS therapy, which could be the solution you’ve been searching for, providing relief from PPD symptoms with minimal side effects. 

Don’t let postpartum depression dim the beauty of new motherhood. Reach out to Brain Health Center to learn more about how TMS therapy can help and to schedule a consultation. Together, we can take the first step towards healing and a brighter, happier future for you and your family.