What is the Treatment for Postpartum Depression?

Treatment of Postpartum Depression includes counselling, medications and hormonal therapy. Appropriate diagnosis plays key role in treatment of postpartum depression.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Mental HealthWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Feb 27, 2012
What is the Treatment for Postpartum Depression?

What is the Treatment for Postpartum DepressionTreatment for Postpartum Depression and time to recover depends on the severity of your depression which varies from person to person.


Treatment for Baby Blues


Women with baby blues don’t usually need any treatment as it fades away on its own within a few days to weeks. Your doctor may recommend you to take adequate rest, eat healthy diet, and avoid alcohol as it can make mood swings worse. Seek support from your spouse, family and friend. Talk to them about your feelings and don’t isolate yourself. Talk to other new moms. If needed your doctor may do thyroid tests and prescribe thyroid medication.


Postpartum Depression


Most mothers with postpartum depression are treated with counseling and medication.


  • Counseling: Talking to your psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional can help you to address your concerns and apprehensions. Counseling can help you to understand your feelings, concerns and solve problems by making realistic goals. Taking your spouse, partner or family member along with you for counseling, may be helpful.
  • Antidepressants: Your doctor may recommend antidepressants if counseling does not work. These medications are proven to be beneficial for postpartum depression. Consult your doctor for the potential risks and benefits of specific antidepressants and if you can take it while you are feeding your baby.
  • Hormone therapy: Some women with postpartum depression benefit from estrogen replacement as it helps to counteract the rapid drop in estrogen that occurs after childbirth. This can aid to alleviate symptoms of postpartum depression. However, there is little evidence on effectiveness of hormone therapy for postpartum depression. Your doctor will weigh the potential risks and benefits of hormone therapy before starting it.


Appropriate diagnosis and treatment for postpartum depression can effectively control the symptoms in a few months. Some women can continue to experience  symptoms of postpartum depression up to a year. Consult your doctor before stopping treatment as it might be too early and can cause relapse. Your doctor may advise you to continue treatment for some time after you begin to feel better to prevent relapse of symptoms.


Postpartum Psychosis


Postpartum psychosis the most severe form of postnatal depression often requires immediate treatment in a hospital.


  • Medications: After your doctor is sure about your safety you may be given a combination of medications — such as antidepressants, antipsychotic medications and mood stabilizers — to control the signs and symptoms of the disease.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy: If needed electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be given as well. It is useful for women with severe depression especially when other treatments have failed or if immediate control of symptoms is needed.


Women with postpartum psychosis may not be able to breastfeed the baby due to separation from the baby or medications. Breast feeding while taking some medications for treatment of postpartum psychosis is not recommended.

Coping with Postpartum Depression


If you are diagnosed with postpartum depression, self-care is as important as medications and other treatments, to manage the symptoms. Some self-help strategies for postpartum depression include;


  • Take adequate rest, go out for sunshine and fresh air daily, and eat a healthy diet.
  • Talk and seek support from your spouse, family and friend. Talk to them about your feelings and don’t isolate yourself.
  • Join a support group like talk to other new moms and share your experiences because this will make you feel that its not just you who is experiencing rough times.
  • If possible ask family and friends to help you with child care, and housework.
  • Take out time for yourself and relax even if it is for 15-30 minutes
  • Try to sit down and enjoy those special moments with your spouse, family and friends
  • Do not expect too much form yourself - set realistic expectations. It is not necessary to be a supermom.
  • Make a note of your emotions and thoughts as this can help you and your therapist to keep track of your progress as you begin to feel better.


Read more articles on Postpartum Depression Treatment