Treating Depression and Anxiety
Sometimes even if you do everything in your power to stay cheerful and focus on the joy of your new baby, postpartum depression can take hold. This doesn't mean you've done anything wrong or are an unfit mother; hormonal changes are beyond your control. Luckily, there are several treatment options available to you if you feel like you're suffering from postpartum depression.
Sometimes, talking through your worries and concerns with a third party like a counselor or psychologist can help you cope with your feelings. If your depression is mild, therapy, combined with the lifestyle changes described above, may be enough to make you feel better.
If your depression is more severe, talking it through may not be enough. There are several antidepressant medications that are considered safe for nursing babies, including Zoloft and Paxil. Experts agree that, while some antidepressants may pose a small risk to the baby, the risks of untreated postpartum depression are more serious. You may also want to consult with a good naturopath or homeopath for effective alternative treatments.
If you worry that some of the medication may pass through to your breastmilk, keep in mind that if you're unable to interact with or enjoy your baby it can have a negative effect on her development. Talk with your care provider and carefully weigh the medication's possible risks and benefits.
If your depression is mild, your care provider may recommend that you start with talk therapy or make some other changes in your life before you opt for medication. Also, keep in mind that most studies show that negative effects of certain antidepressants on a nursing baby happen in the first couple of months postpartum. If your baby is older than that, his chances of side effects are far less.
Not all doctors are knowledgeable about antidepressants and breastfeeding, so it's a good idea to arm yourself with information before you see a doctor. A good resource for finding out more about the possible effects a drug might have on your milk and your baby is
Do You Really Need to Seek Treatment?
If you aren't happy, it can affect everything about motherhood, from the bond you share with your baby to the care you're able to give her and older children, if you have them, to the memories you'll have later. Untreated depression in mothers can have a huge negative effect on children all the way through adolescence and is linked to language and developmental delays, behavior problems, trouble making and keeping friends, and problems in school. Depression can also have a negative effect on your marriage and other relationships. And depression during your baby's early months can keep you from enjoying the experience of motherhood. Don't allow yourself to feel like a failure or less of a mother because you need to seek treatment for postpartum depression. It's crucial that you seek help so that you can fully participate in your baby's life, now and as he grows.
While mild depression may be something you can overcome yourself with changes to your lifestyle, more serious depression and mood disorders should not be ignored. If you aren't feeling like yourself or can't find joy in your new baby, it's worth it to make a call to your care provider and see what's going on. Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders can rob you of your energy, optimism, joy, and self-esteem, and make it difficult for you to be an engaged, happy, and confident mother. You owe it both to yourself and your baby to feel as good as you can both physically and emotionally.