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Help With Postpartum Depression

Curated and updated for the community by APA

For most women, having a baby is a very exciting, joyous, and often anxious time. But for women with postpartum, or peripartum, depression it can become very distressing and difficult. Postpartum depression is a serious, but treatable medical illness involving feelings of extreme sadness, indifference and/or anxiety, as well as changes in energy, sleep, and appetite. It carries risks for the mother and child.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

  • Feb 06, 2018
Social Interventions for Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions and is the leading cause of disease burden worldwide. Older, isolated adults who have little regular social interaction may be particularly at risk. Researchers in Canada wanted to look at whether interventions that aim to facilitate interaction and connection among individuals could reduce depression.

  • Dec 12, 2017
Online Mental Health Screenings: A Potential First Step

Several organizations provide brief online screenings for depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental health conditions. More than one million people took screenings through the Mental Health America site alone in 2016.

  • Nov 30, 2017
Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Linked to Changes in Medication Use Among People with Serious Mental Illness

People with serious mental illness exposed to direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of medications are more likely to stop taking their medications than those not exposed to the advertising, according to new research published in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

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Postpartum Support International

My sister had a baby a couple of weeks ago and I can see she’s not herself and is hurting. I don’t want to offend her by suggesting she get help, how can I help her?

When someone we love is suffering, it's natural to want to give advice. And at the same time, we may fear that our unsolicited advice will put them on the defense. However, given that the risks for untreated peripartum depression are so great, including preterm birth and social, emotional, and cognitive deficits in the baby years later, it is crucial our loved one receive timely support. Some thoughts on how to help your sister: offer to spend time with her, let her take naps, join her for a walk, allow her to engage in self-care in the way she finds most effective (such as taking a shower, eating a meal in silence or with a friend or partner, or getting out of the house for a manicure or haircut).

Ask her how she is sleeping, and how her mood is. Let her know you are not judging her and you are there to help — empathize, validate and normalize her experience. For example, you can say: “I can only imagine what you’re going through,” or “This must be a really rough time,” or “You are doing such a great job.” Read More

Is it possible for a new father to experience peripartum depression?

Absolutely. A new baby is an immense joy as well as a lot of work! It can be a stressor for the entire family. About 4 percent of fathers will experience symptoms of postpartum depression. New fathers with a personal or family history of depression, those feeling unprepared and those dealing with unemployment/ financial difficulties may be at greater risk. Struggling with work-life balance, difficulties with communication and division of labor in the family can all exacerbate the transition into fatherhood. Read More

I am pregnant and have been diagnosed with peripartum depression. In addition to the psychotherapy my doctor recommended, what can I do for myself to keep me and my baby healthy?

Get as much support as possible, for example look for a new moms’ group or even the second or third time moms’ groups through your local hospital. Try to line up several reliable family members or friends to help or get hired help. Plan as much in advance as possible, take shifts, make selfcare a priority. Spend 15 minutes a day checking in with your partner about non-baby related issues. The basics are key—eating well, sleep, and exercise within reason. Shoulder rubs from your partner, and if you can afford to splurge, a massage, can help. Touch can be very relaxing and soothing, especially with all the aches and pains of our bodies creating and carrying another human for almost a year! Setting realistic expectations, working on communication, asking for help, learning relaxation techniques (such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, mindfulness and yoga) can also help. Consider talking with your doctor about medication in moderate to serious cases. Read More

Sudeepta-Varma-MD-Expert

About the Expert

Sudeepta Varma, M.D., PC, FAPA is a board certified psychiatrist with a private practice in Manhattan. She is also a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU Langone Medical Center and a frequent media contributor. www.doctorsuevarma.com

Patient Stories

Maya is a 32-year-old fit, vibrant lawyer. She had been married for more than two years and was expecting her first child, a baby boy. She had a history of depression and generalized anxiety disorder.

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JAN 15, 2018

Experts say many women suffering from postpartum disorders keep quiet over stigma

WLS-TV

One in five women who suffer postpartum mood disorders such as anxiety and depression do it in silence. Ten to 20 percent of new mothers experience postpartum depression. But postpartum expert Carrie Banks says mothers keep quiet because of the stigma that hangs over mental health issues.

JAN 10, 2018

Research Shows a Couple's Friendship is Key to Reducing Postpartum Depression

The Good Men Project (blog)

The best thing new moms can do is to talk with their partner about their feelings. Really, it can be that simple. Dr. John Gottman’s research on Bringing Baby Home found the strength of the couple’s friendship to be a key factor in reducing the baby blues and postpartum depression. Feeling supported by your significant other makes the transition easier and more manageable.

DEC 28, 2017

There Could be a Biological Mechanism Behind Postpartum Depression

ScienceAlert

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a devastating condition, affecting somewhere between 11 and 20 percent of women who give birth. Yet it's complicated, and poorly understood. Now, using mouse models, researchers have identified what could be an actual biological cause for the condition - at least in some patients. It all has to do with a pathway in the body that regulates stress.