Postpartum Depression: How Counseling and Psychotherapy Can Help

a woman sitting and thinking

Post Partum Depression affects the entire family and must be taken seriously.

PPD affects the child in many ways – children of women who suffer with PPD are more likely to be anxious and more insecure in their attachments.

I find that women who have had traumatic events in their lives are more likely to suffer from PPD. If there is trauma around the birth of the child, there can also be symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Symptoms of anxiety are passed on to the child from the parents.

Over the years I have noticed that women who have PPD, have had conflicted feelings over the pregnancy, have had difficulties getting pregnant, and have had depressive episodes prior to the pregnancy.

Additionally, when medical intervention is used to get pregnant, there are often emotional and familial stresses that are ignored or buried in the hope that a child would solve all these issues.

Therapy can help sort out these conflicts instead of burying them by using medications.

Psychologists and Psychotherapists help manage and reduce symptoms. Psychiatrists who treat anxiety with medication can help refer the patient to therapists. For some, it may take a combination of psychotherapy and medication.

Learn more:

Giving birth can be one of the greatest joys in a woman’s life. However, while the birth of a newborn can be a thrilling, joyous, and rewarding experience, it can also be extremely emotionally, mentally, and physically draining. Women go through numerous psychological and physical changes, both during pregnancy and after giving birth, which can leave them feeling sad, confused, anxious, or afraid. For many women, these feelings — commonly referred to as the baby blues — disappear relatively quickly on their own. However, if these feelings persist or worsen, a woman may very well be experiencing postpartum depression (PPD), a serious condition that affects 10-20% of women after giving birth and requires professional assistance. Fortunately, postpartum depression is treatable and can be overcome rather quickly providing you get help as quickly as possible. How Can You Tell If You Have Postpartum Depression? Unlike the baby blues, in which a new mother experiences sudden mood swings in the days immediately after giving birth, the mood swings caused by postpartum depression often affect a woman’s ability to function and prevent her from completing necessary tasks and fulfilling routine responsibilities.

Some signs of postpartum depression include:

  • Feeling restless or irritable
  • Feeling depressed, sad, or regularly crying for no apparent reason
  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Headaches, chest pains, hyperventilating, and heart palpitations
  • Insomnia or routinely sleeping more than nine hours each night
  • Dramatic gain or loss of weight
  • Lack of appetite or overeating
  • Difficulties concentrating and making decisions
  • Feelings of anxiety or indifference about the newborn
  • Feelings of apathy regarding things that once brought joy
  • Fears of hurting the baby or oneself

The more symptoms you’re exhibiting and the longer they last, the greater the chances you’re struggling with PPD.

While a new mother may experience these symptoms without having postpartum depression, the more symptoms you’re exhibiting and the longer they last, the greater the chances you’re struggling with PPD. Effectively Treatments for Postpartum Depression If you experience symptoms of postpartum depression for more than a few days after the birth, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek to consult your family doctor, who will most likely recommend some form of counseling or psychotherapy.

Professional counseling or psychotherapy and medication have been shown to be the most effective treatments for women suffering from postpartum depression. Given this, your doctor may also prescribe some form of antidepressant to help you cope with the symptoms of your depression as quickly as possible, particularly if your symptoms are severe. That having been said, while research has shown that a combination of counseling and medication may be the two most effective ways to cope with and overcome postpartum depression, you should have some reservations about taking antidepressants, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Fortunately, counseling and psychotherapy alone have been shown to be just as effective as antidepressants in helping women overcome mild to moderate cases of PPD. Types of Counseling and Therapy that Can Help Counseling and psychotherapy — also known as “talk” therapy — do not describe a single treatment approach but rather a variety of treatment techniques that can help women deal with and resolve postpartum depression.

Some of the more common and effective therapy techniques used in the treatment of postpartum depression include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) — Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on helping women recognize and change the negative thoughts and reactions that contribute to depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a relatively brief form of treatment — typically lasting 8-12 weeks — that can provide you the skills and tools you need to cope with the symptoms of your depression as well as prevent it from recurring.
  • Psychodynamic Psychotherapy — Psychodynamic psychotherapy is similar to Freudian psychoanalysis in that your psychotherapist will encourage you to discuss your thoughts and feelings openly and honestly in an attempt to understand the underlying causes of your depression. By uncovering the subconscious roots of your depression — such as your own childhood experiences or your relationship with your mother — you can learn to reframe your thoughts and behavior patterns and overcome your depression.
  • Humanistic/Existential Therapy — Most humanistic and existential therapists have unique ways of helping women overcome postpartum depression that focus on the healing power of our relationships with others and ourselves. These types of therapy use the unique properties of the therapeutic relationship to assist you in overcoming your depression by helping you develop a stronger sense of self and improve your relationship with yourself and those around you.

Creating positive, lasting change isn't easy; however, once you’ve learned the skills and tools that therapy can teach you, you’ll have them for the rest of your life.

Regardless of the type of treatment, or combination of treatments, you choose, the outcome of your treatment will depend on many factors, including your commitment to the therapeutic process. Creating positive, lasting change is rarely easy, and it will take some time and effort to overcome your fears and the depression you’re experiencing. However, once you’ve learned the skills and tools that therapy can teach you, you’ll have them for the rest of your life. So, if you’re suffering from postpartum depression, there’s a good chance that professional counseling and therapy can not only help you overcome the depression you’re experiencing today, but also help you make your relationship with your new child the best it can be for many years to come.

Leave a Comment