What is Postpartum Depression? How do I Seek Treatment?

Apr 19, 20244 min
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Ever heard of baby blues? Is it the same as postpartum depression? There is indeed a difference between the two. Pregnancy is often equivalent to taking a hormonal rollercoaster. There may be sudden highs and sudden lows. Often, these mood swings continue after the birth of a baby and are what we recognize as baby blues. 

While we celebrate the birth of a new baby, we often forget the new role and identity that a woman takes on. A new mother can go through multiple changes, both at emotional and psychological levels. 

When you choose to read or learn more about postpartum depression, you contribute to a mother’s well-being. 


Are these baby blues or something more severe?

Baby blues are the initial low moods that you may experience as a new mother. Imagine this, you have been carrying an identity for nine months. In this identity, you go through physical changes, you feel differently, and you also experience cognitive changes. After toiling for nine months, this identity changes overnight.

From diaper parties to midnight crying spells, baby blues can creep up almost immediately. Postpartum depression is a form of major depressive disorder and is not temporary. Generally, a woman would feel better once she adjusts to the new role of a mother. However, the type of depression continues to disrupt her emotional health. Here are some common signs to look out for:

  1. Emotional sensitivity and dysregulation: New mothers may experience intense and negative emotions, such as hopelessness, helplessness, and sadness.
  2. Sleeping difficulties: Apart from waking up for the baby, mothers may not be able to feel rested. Additionally, they may also experience intense exhaustion.
  3. Changes in appetite: One of the most common symptoms of depression is changes in appetite. Food may be used as a way of coping or the individual may develop an aversion to it.
  4. Thoughts of suicide: When you feel stuck and have nowhere to go, sometimes suicidal ideations may pop up! Suicidal thoughts may not always be apparent and may show up as: “It all seems meaningless," “I wish I had a different life," or “I can’t do this anymore.”
  5. Feelings of guilt and shame: Postpartum depression often trickles down to feelings of shame and guilt. As a new mother, you may feel that you are not doing a good job and may experience shame as a consequence.

Aaron Beck developed the cognitive triad to understand an adult’s thought patterns when diagnosed with depression. Mothers with postpartum depression can develop the following view points:

  1. Negative views about the world: Depression affects how you see the world around you. Suddenly, you may feel that it has no value or that it has become increasingly bleak.
  2. Negative views about self: Perhaps the most common viewpoint is that you start seeing yourself in an increasingly negative light. You blame yourself and often criticize yourself for everything you engage in.
  3. Negative views about others: Postpartum depression also influences how you see your loved ones, including your own child. In rare cases, you might develop intense negative emotions towards them and not feel affectionate towards them.

What are the postpartum depression treatments that you can opt for?


Postpartum depression affects your health on multiple levels. When you or someone you know continues to display symptoms for a long period of time, it is your cue to seek help. As a starting point, you can get in touch with a general practitioner. However, it is possible that they may see it as ‘typical’ symptoms post-pregnancy and wait for them to pass. 

It can be hard to seek help, but reaching out can bring about various individual and interpersonal changes. The following are the steps or options to consider in your treatment journey.

  1. Therapy

Sometimes we need objective help more than the comfort and love of the ones around us. When the battle with our inner thoughts and emotions doesn’t seem to end, reaching out to a therapist can get you out of the big black hole.

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Thoughts often become distorted when you experience depression. CBT can help you track your thoughts and replace your irrational thoughts with more rational ones. 
  2. Interpersonal Therapy: When you find that your relationships are being constantly influenced by your symptoms of depression, you can seek interpersonal therapy. It is a short-term and time-limited type of therapy that uses targeted interventions.
  3. Couple Therapy: We can’t miss out on the role of a partner in the treatment of postpartum depression. When a partner takes equal responsibility for healing, the journey becomes relatively comfortable.

2. Medication

The word medication can stir up various emotions. However, mental health issues often have a biological basis. This means that some of us may have to reach out to a psychiatrist and start taking medications. Meds play an important role in establishing hormonal balance.

Medications are not magical pills. In many cases, you go through a trial and testing process. Sometimes, it may not work, but that doesn’t mean nothing will work out for you.

Postpartum Depression Treatments That You Can Opt For Therapy and Medication - Therapy Club

Can men experience postpartum depression?

Yes, a big YES! Men can experience postpartum depression as well. Although what women experience may not be the same as what men experience, they can still experience symptoms of depression. Sometimes, it can become difficult to gauge if they are experiencing depression since they may wish to hide their thoughts and feelings.

Due to cultural expectations, men may not be able to openly express their emotions. Often, the most common symptoms are risk taking behaviors and anger. However, they may experience difficulties with sleep and appetite and may also engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms. Even if you don’t see the traditional symptoms, it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. There is much more than meets the eye. 


Being diagnosed with postpartum depression can feel like wearing colored glasses. It influences your perception completely and you may find yourself in an endless thought loop. It is important to remember that being diagnosed with postpartum depression doesn’t make you a ‘bad’ parent. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Postpartum depression is treatable and help is always available!


References

  1. McIntosh, C. N., & Fischer, D. G. (2000). Beck's cognitive triad: One versus three factors. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 32(3), 153.
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Anvita Sethi
Psychologist | Trauma Informed Therapist | M.Sc. Clinical Psychology