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Postpartum Depression (cont.)

What Are the Medications for Postpartum Depression?

Vitamins: While postpartum depression in the United States is rarely related to nutritional problems, it is probably a good idea to continue to take prenatal vitamins and iron after delivery.

Antidepressants: Drugs such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), or venlafaxine (Effexor) may be needed for as long as a year (possibly longer). Other classes of medications known as mood stabilizers or anti-psychotics also might be utilized.

Other still unproven therapies include the use of bright light and nutritional therapy (especially increasing omega-3 free fatty acids). What some refer to as natural remedies, these therapies have not shown that they are effective substitutes for more conventional interventions.

If you are breastfeeding, medicine you take can be passed to your baby. Some antidepressants can be used safely with little risk to your baby and are therefore viable treatments while breastfeeding.

What Other Therapy Is Available for Postpartum Depression?

Generally, psychotherapy and medications are used together. Psychotherapy alone may be effective in mild cases, particularly if the mother prefers to have treatment without prescribed drugs.

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is an alternative to medication that may be appropriate for some women. IPT assists with social adjustments. It usually consists of 12 one-hour long sessions with a therapist. IPT has been shown to improve measures of depression in some women.

Teaching mothers skills such as soothing the baby's crying often reduces depressive symptoms during the first two to four months after delivery.

If your symptoms can't be controlled with counseling or medicine, and you are thinking about hurting yourself or your baby, then your doctor may consider putting you in the hospital.

What Is the Follow-up for Postpartum Depression?

Follow the recommendations of your health care professional. If he or she prescribes medication and/or counseling, be sure to follow through.

If you are given medication, take it as directed. Do not stop taking your medication until you have talked to your health care professional.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/8/2016

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