Treating Post Natal Depression

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Major episodes of depression following the birth of your child are known as post natal depression or post partum depression. In the initial six months following the delivery, postnatal depression is experienced by approximately 12% to 13% of women. The exact time frame to define the disorder varies from as little as one month to as long as one year after giving birth to your child.

Clarifying Post-Natal Depression

Postnatal depression is not to be confused with “baby blues”, which is commonly experienced by new mothers and is characterized by mood swings and tearfulness. The “baby blues” is a mild condition that is generally gone within the first two weeks following delivery.

Unfortunately, many health care professionals often overlook postpartum depression. However, studies indicate that antidepressants such as nortriptyline, paroxetine, sertraline and venlafaxine can safely be used by mothers who are nursing full term babies. Fluoxetine has been connected to poor feeding, disruptive sleep and irritability in some babies who were exposed to the medication via breast milk. Other reports indicate no adverse effects have been noted. Little is know about how antidepressants affect the brain development of a nursing baby. Several mothers are reluctant to use these medications as long as they are nursing their child.

Promising Research

On the contrary, many studies have indicated that psychotherapeutic intervention to treat the condition is greatly accepted. In a random study, ninety-nine depressed new mothers were divided into groups and some were given interpersonal therapy. The women who received the therapy recovered 30% more effectively than the women who did not receive the same treatment.

Additional research explores using psychotherapy in the new mother’s home. A random trial featuring fifty women who had given birth within the previous three months received counselling. Trained healthcare workers were sent to the homes of the mothers for 30-minute sessions taking place over the course of eight weeks, which led to a full recovery for 69% of the participants. Only 38% of the control group fully recovered from their depression.

Getting Help

Post natal onset of depression is definitely a treatable condition. An array of intervention methods ranging from psychotherapy to antidepressant medications can be helpful for anyone who is suffering from the disorder. New mothers should not stop breastfeeding when starting new medication without the advice of a qualified physician. More studies are being conducted every day is an effort to find new approaches to treatment for this serious disorder, including preventative and follow-up treatment.

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