Maternal Mental Health Month: Postpartum Depression

Maternal Mental Health Month: Postpartum Depression

By Fiona McDermut

As we come to the end of Maternal Mental Health Month, it is important to recognize postpartum depression which affects one in ten new mothers. Postpartum depression is characterized by significant depressive symptoms following child birth. This is caused by the dramatic drop of hormone levels in the mother. Unfortunately, nearly half of these women are never diagnosed and therefore, never properly treated.

It is crucial to be able to identify what is normal after child birth. It is completely normal to have occasional bouts of sadness due to fluctuation in hormones, also known as “baby blues”. Many women also experience anxious thoughts as a new mother. This is frequent because of the newfound responsibility of being a parent combined with excitement and restlessness. Although these symptoms are not pleasant, they are extremely common and can go away on their own or with simple self-help techniques. Some easy self-help techniques include exercise, listening to music, exposure to morning light, and even physical touch such as more frequent hugs!

On the other hand, worrisome results of childbirth include major depressive disorder (MDD) and psychosis. Although the symptoms of MDD (sadness, lack of pleasure, loss of interest, etc.) are similar to normal feelings after childbirth, if these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, it is no longer something to brush off.

The two main treatments of postpartum depression include psychotherapy and anti-depressant medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) have shown to be the most effective methods of psychotherapy treatment. Many find that the most effective results come from a combination of psychotherapy and medication. While there are many options for treatment, the best course of action is to get new mothers who are suffering from these symptoms in touch with a psychiatric professional as soon as possible, and to work with the doctor directly to select the most effective treatment plan for each individual.

If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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