It is important to remember that there are many effective treatments for PMADs. Some common forms of treatment include:
- Therapy from a mental health professional who specializes in PMADs. Therapy has shown to be an effective way to treat PMADs. It may take time to find the right therapist, but don’t give up! An online resource guide with searchable therapist criteria has been developed for the Maryland/DC/Virginia region. You can access it here
- Social support including peer and therapy support groups, support from family and friends
- Self-care emphasis like sleep, exercise and healthy eating
- Medications which are safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding from a health professional who specializes in PMADs
Start by talking to:
- Primary care physician
- Child’s pediatrician
- Local or national social support organization geared toward helping new moms with this common complication of pregnancy
Ask to be screened! Your child’s pediatrician or your OB/GYN can screen you for PMADs.
What if these disorders are untreated?
Without treatment, postpartum depression can last for months or years. In addition to affecting the mother’s health, it can interfere with her ability to connect with and care for her baby and may cause the baby to have problems with sleeping, eating and behavior as he or she grows, as well as affecting relationships within the whole family and overall health.
Psychotherapy is an important part of the treatment for those with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Antidepressant medication such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been shown to effectively work at reducing symptoms of anxiety in the postpartum period (usually a woman will notice a reduction in symptoms after 2-3 weeks of starting a medication). Many of these medications have been shown to be safe during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Benzodiazepines have been shown to effectively work at reducing symptoms associated with panic attacks and high-level anxiety (often in conjunction with an SSRI). While it is recommended that women not cease using a benzodiazepine during pregnancy or breastfeeding if her symptoms are severe and/or if she has benefited from them prior to her pregnancy, some of these medications have a small risk to infants. Careful monitoring by a physician is important. For women whose anxiety is severe, the recommended treatment is medication along with psychotherapy.