Treatment of Depression During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Depression during pregnancy and postpartum is a real phenomenon that many people often ignore or underestimate. Between 12-15% of pregnant and postpartum women meet with depression at least once in their lives during this period.

If left untreated, depression can go on to create misunderstandings, lack of communication, and an emotional gap between spouses. This only gets wider with time due to the arrival of a new baby, and moreover because the couple isn’t quite aware that this experience is occurring.

Lethargy, mood swings, fatigue, sleeping for long hours, a decrease in appetite, and diminished libido are all signs and symptoms of depression during pregnancy and after childbirth. This only intensifies during the second and third trimester while often tapering after delivery.

The treatment for this is quite similar to generally occurring depression. However, the depression occurring during pregnancy and let on requires equal support and effort form both spouses. Here are some ways you can address it:

Create awareness

This is, by far, the most important aspect one needs to consider even before they experience depression during pregnancy or after childbirth.

If the mother is aware that she may experience symptoms of mood swings and depressed phases during this period, she can help herself even before others can, thereby improving her chances of recovery.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy relies on the ability and willingness to put your feelings into words. If the patient is willing to open up and talk about their feelings and seek help to overcome their current state of mind, psychotherapy can work wonders in this regard.

Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy paves way for a much relaxed and calmer state of mind and even paves way for solutions to immediate stressful problems.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

In simpler words, cognitive behavioral therapy challenges your mood swings and behavioral patterns so as to enhance your problem solving and decision-making skills.

It helps keep your negative thought process in check while encouraging you to seek a positive and optimistic outlook in life. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be an effective method for overcoming depression in the long-term.

Nutrition and diet

Antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 fatty oils work exceptionally well for decreasing the risk of depression during pregnancy and postpartum. Citrus fruits, salmon mackerel, soya bean, and fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of the same.

Try and avoid red meat, processed foods, high-fat dairy products, sugary foods, refined grains, junk meals, and oily fried foods as much as possible.

You may also consider testing and evaluation to learn more about your nutritional status and how your diet may be contributing to mental health symptoms.

Lifestyle changes

Getting enough sleep, giving up smoking and drinking, and remaining optimistic can do more help to your mind than you can fathom. Avoid consuming nicotine, weed, and caffeine as much as you can for quicker and healthier results.

Meditation is a great method to help you remain calm and at peace for the most part of your days. Incorporating a few mild exercises into your schedule not only induces healthy blood circulation but also helps relieve your depressive symptoms leading to a happier state of mind.

Pharmacologic exposure

You may benefit from using medications to treat your postpartum or pregnancy depression, but if possible consider non-pharmacological treatment methods first as many medications can cross the placenta, pass into breastmilk or decrease milk supply.

If you do choose to take prescription medication, be sure to support it with other forms of psychological therapy aspects for a more comprehensive approach to treatment.

When to seek help

Depression during pregnancy and postpartum is a truth that many women tend to ignore. The instability and intensity of hormones during this period lead to such mood swings which only worsens if left untreated.

If you are pregnant or recently had a baby and are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, consult a licensed healthcare professional.  

Dr. Beata Lewis and Moriya Jakobov, NP of Mind Body Seven in New York specialize in women’s health. Call (212 ) 621-7770 or book an appointment online today.

If you do not have someone who can stay with your baby, we encourage you to bring your baby with you to your session. We don’t want childcare to stand in the way of moms prioritizing their health.