Treatment options for Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD), as mentioned in the previous post, is one of the most common perinatal mood disorders globally, with at least 1 in every 7 mothers getting affected.

Read on the symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Looking out for these symptoms is an effective way to gain clarity into this condition for the simple reason that there is not a single specific test that diagnoses the presence of PPD. Consequently, for therapy to begin, health practitioners are tasked with collecting extensive information as pertains to an individual’s medical past, their health history as well as the circumstances surrounding their pregnancy; generally a background check into their life.

Once this is complete, a health professional can then outline the ideal form of treatment. Typically, therapy for moms and dads usually starts off from non-medication before proceeding to medication (Yes, dads suffer PPD too!! You may want to read this entry on Huffington Post, written by Mark Williams to get some insight. This amazing account on Rosey’s blog is also an eye opener). Below are brief descriptions of some of the treatment options available.

Psychotherapy – Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a popular form of treatment for PPD and depression in general. Just as the name suggests, this form of treatment involves talking to a therapist, psychologist, counsellor or Mental health professional in a safe & non-judgemental environment. Psychotherapy is incredibly helpful because it helps moms know they are not alone. Health professionals work together with moms to help:

  1. Reduce the symptoms of PPD
  2. Understand & cope with their emotions so as to manage PPD

Psychotherapy also looks at the thought patterns that affected moms have. Negative thought patterns typically add to the severity of the symptoms (because moms typically think of themselves as bad moms/ unworthy/ incapable/ unlovable). Once a mom is more stable, the health professional engages them in issues from the past that likely contributed to the PPD, beliefs, behaviours & coping mechanisms. Issues from the past may include – childhood trauma, past mental illness, rejection, broken family etc

Psychotherapy is also effective because it not only looks at risk factors, it also looks at factors that maintain the mom in the depression & protective factors that help with positive coping mechanisms. Severe PPD may require more intense psychotherapy sessions, and this will usually take months, up to a year to show results. It has the advantage of eliminating medication so that moms who are breastfeeding are able to do so without any pharmacological intervention. Therapists develop programs to help patients get through PPD so that they do not relapse. This form of therapy also involves support-based therapy that may include home visits and Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy

Medication – The second form of treatment is medication. Prescription medication is recommended by one’s doctor/ psychiatrist. This depends on the severity of the condition, whether a mom is breastfeeding, her medical history as well as other medications she may be on.

Medication therapy consists of antidepressants prescriptions. Various medicines are available in the market, a good number of which the preferred mode of action is the tweaking of the concentration of brain chemicals which are known to affect levels of depression.The period of time it takes for PPD healing through medication varies from one person to another.

It is important to mention that there is no shame in needing medication to get better after Postpartum Depression. If anything, moms whose severe PPD requires medication are able to sleep better, function better and overall take better care of themselves

Support Group Therapy – The third form of treatment for Postpartum Depression is support group therapy. Support groups are beneficial as they play the role of community by providing psychosocial support for moms with PPD. Support groups may be physical or virtual.

Additionally, support groups also include psycho-education to create awareness on different maternal mental illnesses, risk factors, symptoms, treatment and positive coping mechanisms that moms can use in their recovery journeys.

In both physical & online groups, true support group therapy is facilitated by at least one psychologist. This allows the psychologist to identify group dynamics and use that to pinpoint problem areas, distress as well as possible solutions as moms begin their recovery.

One of the most amazing things about support group therapy is the validation that moms get – to know that they are not alone, that others are struggling too, and that collectively, they can create a safe space for recovery after postpartum Depression.

In essence, support groups create a community whose members have had similar experiences, effectively developing safe spaces where moms can share their journeys, This is why PPDKenya started physical support groups in January and online support groups in September. Read more about that here.

Online support groups are meant to cater for moms who, for one reason or another may not attend our physical support groups. For any mom who is interested/ if you know a mom who would be interested in this kind of support, please SMS your name to 0733 424 361 and indicate that you are reaching out to join the PPDKenya whatsapp support groups. We will then add you to our first group.

Having outlined the three treatment options for Postpartum Depression, we feel that it is important to indicate that some moms (depending on the severity of the condition) may require a combination of the different options – AND THAT IS OKAY. For moms with Postpartum depression, please be reminded that there is no shame in having a mental illness; there is no shame in getting help PPD. There are options for you. There is something that will work for you in your recovery journey.

At PPDKenya, we are here to provide psychosocial support for you, to link you up with professional help and to walk with you. Get in touch with us: drop us an email ppdkenya@gmail.com. You can also call/text 0733 424 361. We are here, We will listen.

We discussed this topic in one of our tweetchats, and you can check it out here.

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