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How is post-natal depression treated? / FAQs / Pregnancy information from midwivesonline.com

How is post-natal depression treated?

If you think you have Post natal depression (PND), talk to your doctor, midwife or health visitor. There are a number of different forms of help available. These include talking therapies, such as counselling and psychotherapy, and antidepressant medicines.

The most important step in treating PND is recognising the problem and taking steps to deal with it. The support and understanding of your partner, family, and friends plays a big part in your recovery. Your GP can arrange counselling, and sometimes you can see a counsellor at your local practice. Other forms of psychological treatments that may help PND include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which aims to reduce unhelpful thoughts and behaviours; Cognitive therapy (CT) which is based on the idea that certain thoughts can trigger mental health problems; and interpersonal counselling, which focuses on your past and present relationships. Health visitors can provide support for women who suffer from both post depression. Many Trusts offer 'listening visits' and some areas run therapeutic groups.

Drug treatment with antidepressants is an option. You may be prescribed a type of antidepressant. Antidepressants can help ease symptoms such as low mood, irritability, lack of concentration, and sleeplessness, allowing you function normally, and giving you the ability to cope better with your new baby. Antidepressants may take two weeks to start working and should be taken for around six months after you start to feel better to help prevent PND coming back. It's possible to continue breastfeeding if you are taking certain antidepressants.

Practical measures, such as help with childcare and getting help so you can have time off can also be helpful. Sharing experiences with other mothers affected by PND can also. Those affected should get as much rest and support as possible after their baby is born. Some herbal preparations are thought to help. It is important to remember this is an illness and can be treated.

Some women will get better without treatment after a period time. However, this can mean a lot of suffering. PND can disrupt the experience of motherhood, and strain your relationship with your baby and partner. So the shorter it lasts, the better. It's important to get help as soon as possible, to relieve the depression, to support your relationship with your baby, and to help your baby’s development in the long run.

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