Treating Perinatal Mood Disorders
Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders are extremely treatable. There are a variety of options that may work well for you. Read below to explore some options - and go to our resource guide to find local providers.
Note: This website is for informational purposes only and is not a professional diagnosis, recommendation, or endorsement of any specific treatment. We hope that what you find here will be helpful, but you should discuss your concerns and needs with a medical or mental health professional.
Counseling (individual, family, or group)
Having a safe space to talk is essential for anyone during such a major life transition! A counselor can help you process any difficult feelings you may be having and build skills to help support yourself during challenges. Many approaches have been shown to be effective for treating perinatal mood disorders, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT, which is learning how your thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms interact), Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT, which helps navigate transitions and grief and support interpersonal relationships), EMDR (which uses eye movements and sound to help process traumatic memories or deeply held beliefs about ourselves).
Many people also find medications to be effective in helping manage their symptoms, usually as a supplement to counseling and other interventions. Many OBs or primary care providers will prescribe medications, but may be hesitant during pregnancy or if you are breastfeeding. It may be more helpful to talk with a psychiatrist that specializes in reproductive health (check out our resource guide). Many medications are safe during pregnancy or with breastfeeding; for more information, check out Mother to Baby or LactMed. If you ever take medication - before, during, or after pregnancy - it is important to be monitored by a healthcare provider and to talk through any concerns with them before stopping medication.
Support groups help us see that we are not alone in our struggle and gives us space to talk about our worries in a safe, non-judgmental space. You can find groups about a variety of concerns, including perinatal mood disorders, grief and loss, infant feeding, the transition to parenthood, and difficult birth experiences.
Infant mental health
Infant Mental Health is a home-based program focused on people who are pregnant or who have very young children. It is focused on parents who are struggling with a perinatal mood disorder, have a history of trauma, or who are having trouble bonding with baby.
Some people find success with alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, acupressure, light therapy, massage, or hypnosis. The research evidence is limited, so talk it through with your provider first, especially before you take any herbs or supplements. Others find relief from changes in nutrition or exercise, or finding other ways to help take care of themselves.
Sometimes our symptoms are so extreme that we need more intensive support. Pine Rest, in Grand Rapids, has an intensive day program especially for mothers. Your doctor or therapist can also help you find an appropriate program. If you are considering attempting suicide, feel that you may actually do something to hurt yourself or baby, or if you are hearing or seeing things that other people don't, you should call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.