Which Antidepressants Treat Postpartum Depression?

Medically Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on April 19, 2023
3 min read

So your doctor or health care provider has diagnosed you with postpartum depression. Now what? First, and most importantly, don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. Many new moms deal with a wide range of emotions after having a baby. You’ve done the right thing to seek help.

There are a variety of ways to treat postpartum depression. Your doctor likely will talk with you about whether you want to see a counselor. They also may talk to you about taking antidepressants, medications that treat depression, and which should help you feel more like yourself.

Antidepressants affect certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. There are lots of antidepressants. Some types work on different brain chemicals than others.

Many of the new antidepressants have fewer side effects than some older ones. But each targets different brain chemicals, so some work better for certain people than others.

Newer antidepressants include:

Older antidepressants include:

It can take several weeks for antidepressants to be fully effective, so be patient. With some, you’ll slowly increase your dosage. With others you can take the full dose right away.

If you don’t get relief, tell your doctor or counselor. You may do better with a different dosage or another medication. You and your doctor can find the medicine, or combination of medicines, that works best for you.

Sometimes, symptoms can get severe and the doctor may consider hospitalization. A drug called brexanolone that is given by IV over several days might help. There is a risk of excessive sedation and sudden loss of consciousness.

The latest antidepressants on the market have few side effects, but you should still watch for:

Older antidepressants may cause:

If you’re still nursing your baby, you’re probably wondering if it’s safe to take antidepressants. Most likely yes, depending on the medication.

Antidepressants have shown up in breast milk in very low amounts. Studies have found that neither the old or new drugs have harmful effects on babies when small amounts are passed through breast milk. But be sure to tell your doctor that you’re nursing, just to be safe.

Even if your doctor prescribes medication, you still might want to think about attending counseling sessions, or talk therapy, as part of your treatment.

Also, it’s important to take care of yourself every day to help boost your mood. You should:

  • Get more sleep.
  • Exercise.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Do fun activities.
  • Take some time to relax.