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Postpartum Depression Treatment

Many women are affected by feelings of hopelessness and depression after giving birth. There is no single cause for this mood disorder, and treatment requires expert care.

What Are the “Baby Blues?”

It’s natural for mothers to feel unhappiness, sometimes referred to as the “baby blues.” This is a temporary and mild feeling that may last a week or two during periods of difficulty while managing the baby.

Postpartum depression (PPD) may onset before the baby is born and affects the early weeks and months of bonding with the baby. This gives the mother extreme symptoms, getting in the way of caring for herself and the baby.

Postpartum Symptoms & Causes

Mothers with postpartum depression often experience a deep level of despair. They will feel physically exhausted and emotionally burdened while unable to lift themselves from their sadness.

If left untreated, this depression can continue for an extended period of time, possibly the baby’s early childhood. Women may also feel depressed during pregnancy, and early signs of depression should be made aware to a physician.

Despite popular belief, depression and anxiety are very similar disorders. Mothers with postpartum depression and anxiety may feel they are swinging between two extreme moods. These are the most common symptoms of postpartum depression:

• Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
• Feelings of sudden anger or rage
• Feelings of anxiety or difficulty with decision-making
• Feelings of failing to adopt “motherly instincts”
• Self-isolation from friends and family
• Sleeping too little or too much, and out of sync with the baby
• Eating too little or too much
• Difficulty forming an attachment to the baby
• Thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby

Other mothers may experience postpartum infections in the uterine, bladder or kidney. These infections sometimes don’t become apparent until weeks after delivery. Mothers may also experience breast tenderness, backaches, headaches, hair loss, constipation, and pain with intercourse.

Full recovery from delivery can take months, and women with cesareans may also experience pain around the site of the scar for up to six months.

It’s very common for women to feel overwhelmed by the side effects of giving birth, and to fall into postpartum depression.

How to Treat Postpartum Depression

The first step all mothers must take if they are feeling the symptoms of postpartum depression is to seek help.

Postpartum depression is never something to feel ashamed of, and treatment is crucial to the health of both the mother and the baby. Mothers are not at fault for their symptoms and require help in order to feel better. Mothers who are depressed put their children at risk of Reactive Attachment Disorder, a disorder where the child can’t properly form attachment due to emotional neglect.

At this time in a women’s life, some mothers may also find they are genetically predisposed to a disease. The stress of childbirth often affects our bodies to express genes which weren’t previously expressed. In a conversation on “Why Do Mothers Suffer From Depression,” Dr. Amen discusses with his wife, Tana Amen, the significance of women having their thyroid hormones checked. Hashimotos, for example, is an autoimmune disease which primarily affects the thyroid and can have a large influence on swinging between anxiety and depression.

5 Ways to Help Heal Depression in Mothers

1. Exercise and Return to Fun Hobbies

Exercising is a sure way to boost your dopamine, which affects the pleasure centers of the brain. Starting up your favorite hobbies and surrounding yourself with friends and family can help boost your overall stress resilience, and can get yourself and the baby out of the house.

2. Positive Thinking

Positive thinking can be very difficult for women with postpartum depression. Here at Amen Clinics, we often talk about an acronym called ANTS, which stands for “automatic negative thoughts.” Become aware of these thoughts and learn how to correct them with our help.

3. Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Dr. Amen also recommends taking omega 3 fatty acids, as they play a role in the central nervous system and have been found to influence depressive disorders.

4. Ketamine Injection Therapy

Ketamine is sometimes used by Amen Clinics to help treat patients with a range of mood disorders, including treatment resistant depression and suicidal thoughts. The drug is a commonly used anesthetic and induces a “window of clarity” for immediate treatment against debilitating negative thoughts.

5. Get Assessed

Depression is not one thing, and treatment depends on what kind of depression you have. Seeking expert help is essential for identifying the root cause of the depression and treating it for lasting results.

Find a Postpartum Depression Clinic

In addition to the physical stress labor, childbirth, and recovery put on women’s bodies, a newborn baby must also be taken care of. For many mothers, occasional sadness is natural to experience, but there is always help for feelings of depression.

Here at Amen Clinics, we help women with postpartum depression and anxiety so that they are capable of caring for themselves and their babies.

Make an appointment by calling 888-288-9834 today or scheduling online, and review our locations to find the nearest clinic to your home.

We have eight locations across the country in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. We also have locations in Orange County, CA, in Walnut Creek, CA, and in Bellevue, WA.

For more insight, watch the following video from Dr. Amen’s episode of “Why Do Mothers Suffer From Depression,” starting at the 2-min mark.

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COMMENTS

  1. Mary Kirby,R.N. says:

    Number #1.
    GET SOME HELP IN THE HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    HAVE SOMEONE TO HELP WITH MEALS AND LAUNDRY.
    SO MANY ARE SLEEP DEPRIVED!!!!!!!!!!!

    HELP SO YOU CAN AT LEAST TAKE A NAP!!!!
    OFTEN OTHER YOUNG CHILDREN TO CARE FOR. IF YOU CANNOT AFFORS HELP-GO TO CHURCH FOR HELP.

    HAVE CARED FOR SO MANY MOTHERS-OFTEN SINGLE MOMS WITH NO SUPPORT!!!!

  2. Michelle says:

    what if a mother left the marriage and the newborn for approx 6 mo claims she was diagnosed with post partum depression, she filed for divorce in that time period she was absent from child and husband and she became pregnant 2 mo after delivery. Currently is divorced, resided with relatives and has bounced from man to man. Currently lives in another state than the supportive family with two children ages 2 and 3. She was arrested this summer in city of new residence due to anonymous tip of child abuse including strangulation of child from her marriage. She was sitting in jail until they found the current boyfriend. He is now in jail pending next abuse hearing. She will not blame him he will not blame her. First child was in custody of her daddy within 24 hours of him being contacted by CPS. Father has legal matters are in the process for full custody. Second child had no birth father on certificate. Her time in jail made her willing to give up birth fathers name, he was found, is now married and they want the child. CPS did report this mother is pregnant again by current boyfriend who appears to be part or all of the abuse on her first child.
    Our family is friends with the divorced father of first child and we are now care givers of his child while he is at work. The child had visited for a month approx 40 days prior to abuse so we knew what they were like. We have helped this youngster heal and feel safe since being back with the father.
    So my questions are: does the post partum depression she claims from first pregnancy change once she was pregnant with second child, there is 14 mo between the two children? Does post partum depression continue into the second pregnancy, never going away where she could claim pregnancies the cause of the child abuse?

  3. Carolyn says:

    My symptoms presented as an inability to sleep. Then when I couldn’t sleep I became more and more anxious. So I don’t think I could have napped when the baby napped. I remember thinking if I could just get him to sleep through the night things would be normal again. Took me two months to get him there, with the help of my husband, but once that started to happen things got marginally better. I thank God for my family and my doctors who helped me along the way. My husband, while really not understanding, was very hands on with the baby so that was very helpful. As well my friends would drop by and help out very frequently. I would not have recovered without the aid of prescription medicine. Go to a doctor and get help. And don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be the perfect mother. I have been a perfectionist Type A personality my whole life and this DID NOT serve me well after my baby’s birth. I felt I had to do everything and it really taught me to ask for help and accept help. Actually in the end, though a nightmare to go through, the postpartum was a blessing in disguise. I am sitting here remembering and crying. Such a hard hard time but please seek medical help.

    A lot of frustration at how little they know about the brain and how to prescribe the right medicine. After a few tries we found the right one but had to be accompanied by faster acting Xanax to get me through the day. My doctor was a godsend. If I went to the emergency with a panic attack she would call me the next day and have me come in to make sure I was okay. I have so much thanks in my heart for her.

    For my second baby I made sure that my mother came and stayed with me. I lost her when my second baby was only about 8 months old. She was my go to person for my anxiety attacks but I didn’t relapse after her death, which I thought I would. I had a few symptoms right after the birth of my second child but with all my family around I was able to weather the storm, with medication again. It wasn’t as severe as with my first. I let my husband share in the maternity leave the second time around which was one of the best things I ever did. I am very close with my children and probably was overly loving to them rather than the way some mothers react to postpartum by rejecting their children. They are now in their early twenties and mid teens and I couldn’t be happier to be their mom.

    All I want to end with is that it does get better. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but accept help and get to a doctor quickly. There is a lot of stigma around mental health but understand that your sanity is more important than the stigma. If people look at you differently they weren’t meant to be in your life anyways. I know not everyone has the support I did but start with the doctor and go from there. You will be thankful you did.

  4. Debbie Earley says:

    Dr. Amen! I love your work, but how could you write this article without addressing hormonal changes before & after child birth & it’s effects on wimen’s Mental health?

  5. Gina Pera says:

    Many women with ADHD are misdiagnosed with “post partum depression” and given SSRIs.

    This risks making ADHD worse.

    It’s very important to get an accurate diagnosis and to take a full and knowledgeable history.

    Too many docs see “depression” and fail to distinguish between “depression” as a legitimate neurophysiological condition and “depression” as the fallout from untreated/undiagnosed/poorly managed ADHD.

    Gina Pera

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