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Depression Health Center

After Baby is Born: Postpartum Depression and Relationships

Between 10% and 20% of new mothers experience postpartum depression.
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Treating Perinatal Mood Disorders

If you think you have a perinatal mood disorder, one of the most important things you can do when seeking treatment is to involve your partner.

“As soon as I’m seeing someone, I want to get the husband and baby in as well, to see what impact it’s having on the family, and to give him the opportunity to talk about his frustrations and show him how he can support her,” Kleinman says.

The good news, Meyer says, is this: you’re not alone, and there is help -- for both of you. But you have to reach out for it. You can start by contacting Postpartum Support International at 800-944-4773 for referrals to resources in your area. Men may want to check out an online resource called the Postpartum Dads Project at http://postpartumdadsproject.org/.

What will happen when you reach out for counseling and treatment? There are multiple options for treating perinatal mood disorders.

  • Medication. Many women who experience perinatal mood disorders, like Tina Merritt, find significant relief from antidepressant medication. Women who want to breastfeed should talk with their doctor about the best antidepressants for their situation.
  • Counseling and group therapy. Counselors can help you with specific techniques for dealing with your particular symptoms, such as relaxation techniques for women who often feel anxious, and “thought-stopping” for obsessive negative thoughts.
  • Establishing a support system. Friends help, especially other new mothers who have empathy for what you’re going through.
  • Lifestyle interventions. Improving nutrition and getting sufficient sleep can lessen symptoms.

And, couples must remember to care for one another while in treatment for postpartum depression.

“Stress so easily turns into ‘You’re not taking care of me, so the hell with you.’ This is not going to get you what you need,” Kleiman says. “Tend to your relationship. Embrace it. Take care of each other. One of the best ways to meet your own needs is to take care of your partner’s needs. It makes them feel better, and it enables them to do a better job taking care of you.”

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Reviewed on June 08, 2009

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