Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders are the most common postpartum complication that women face. With estimates of occurrences between 15-20%, nearly 700,000 women in the US alone struggle postpartum. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders can cause great distress and suffering to families, as well as impact the relationship and bonding between mother and baby. Effective treatment is available, but reaching out may be difficult or women may simply not know where to turn.
Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders are treatable. Treatment generally has three main components, of which mothers may find one, two, or all three necessary and helpful in reaching health goals. Psychotherapy, self-care, and medication is a three pronged approach to working through and treating symptoms of PMAD.
For women and families struggling with PMAD, therapy is one of the best tools available for treatment. Studies support therapy for successful treatment of PMAD, and whether medication is used in conjunction with therapy or not, I highly recommend therapy and self-care as necessary components of treating PMAD. Why? Because postpartum depression is thought to be a combination of environmental and biological variables that impact our mental health. While taking medication may help treat the biological component of PMAD, it does not address the environmental causes, such as stress, struggling relationships, support systems, family resources, and identity shifts that can greatly impact our emotional well being. Additionally, some women choose not to take medication while breastfeeding (see additional information here).
Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is an empirically supported method of therapy for treating PMAD. It is also one of the therapeutic modalities that I heavily lean on in working with postpartum women. Though each client is unique and has individual needs and responses to treatment, I find that IPT is generally helpful for most women in treatment. IPT is time limited, meaning we will not spend years and years in therapy working to treat your PMAD. Instead I view the symptoms of PMAD in relation to the life situations taking place for you right now, and work with you to build coping skills, change patterns of behavior, and work through issues that come up with role transitions related to parenting (see more information about IPT here ).
Because each client is unique, I do not practice solely IPT and also rely heavily on a cognitive-behavioral therapy background and extensive training to work with women on how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are related and how they may be contributing to or causing current symptoms, as well as concrete steps to work toward changing these impacting factors.
Both IPT and CBT have been shown to have high efficacy rates in treating PMAD and are excellent treatment modalities for therapy. While IPT and CBT are my most frequently used therapeutic modalities, I pull heavily from my training of an eclectic background and relational focus, working with you and what feels right for you as a client. I frequently check in during the therapy process to ensure we are working together on your goals and helping move you to a place of wellness and success in therapy.
Therapy is an effective means of treating PMAD, and will include self-care as an important component as well. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders are treatable, and the sooner you are able to get care, the sooner your symptoms will decrease. You are not alone, and help is available when you are ready.
Wishing you wellness!