Postpartum depression is a severe condition that can affect your ability to bond with your baby and, in extreme cases, be life-threatening.
Without help, like online therapy services or social support networks, it can also impact your baby’s development and your long-term mental health. As a licensed therapist, I've seen that recognizing the symptoms and seeking help early is critical.
Postpartum depression afflicts up to 20% of all mothers. So, I've compiled some of my practical and professional tips for coping with postpartum depression to help guide you as a new mom.
» Need professional help? Check out our top picks for the best online therapy services for depression.
Seek Professional Help
Online therapy platforms like Cerebral and BetterHelp can help new moms fight off self-defeating and negative thoughts that fuel their depressive symptoms. It also offers handy tools like mindfulness practices to help support mood and emotion regulation. Plus, it's flexible so that you can schedule sessions around your baby’s naptime at home.
Sometimes, it's simply helpful to offload to someone who isn’t a family member or friend. A professional can also help you understand that your symptoms aren’t uncommon and teach you how to cope with depression triggers.
If your symptoms interfere with your ability to care for yourself or your baby, seek help immediately. Mental health professionals can provide you with coping strategies, help manage intense emotions, and even connect you with resources for depression.
My Professional Experience: A Case Study
I once worked with a mother who struggled with severe intrusive thoughts after giving birth. It took her many months to seek support, but we worked together to recontextualize these thoughts as symptoms of postpartum depression—not signs that she was “crazy” or wanted to harm her baby.
Over time, she learned to recognize these thinking traps for what they were, which helped her bond with her baby and manage her anxiety.
» Frequently feel overwhelmed? Try online therapy for anxiety.
Build a Support System
Your mental and physical health and your baby’s health can be at risk without adequate support. I find it helpful to have someone around to help with things like making food, washing clothes, or simply caring for your baby.
Your partners and loved ones can provide emotional support in person or virtually. They can be there to listen to your concerns and help identify practical solutions. Even if they’re not physically close, a comforting voice over the phone or video chat can make a big difference.
But sometimes, it's tough to ask for help, especially when you feel severely depressed after giving birth. Mood swings, immense anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and sleep deprivation due to insomnia can severely impair your self-control and empathy.
How to Ask for Help
I suggest practicing communicating your needs and feelings from a first-person point of view rather than a second-person perspective.
For example, instead of saying: “You just aren’t there for me! I’m all alone in this!” try: “I feel so alone and overwhelmed. I need more help with this."
Connect With Other Moms
Talking to moms who've also gone through postpartum depression can be a precious source of comfort and reassurance. It's comforting to know others have felt the same way and that your feelings are validated and normal.
Chatting with these moms can also help mitigate feelings of guilt or shame. Plus, they can give you tips on where to get help and how to—and how not to—manage symptoms.
Find support through Postpartum Progress, which offers a list of support groups in the United States and Canada for moms like you experiencing postpartum depression.
You can take advantage of Postpartum Support International’s peer mentor program, which connects you to mothers who’ve fully recovered from the condition. They also connect new moms with local and online volunteers and support groups trained to support them.
Doctors often give antidepressants (SSRIs), like Sertraline, to help with postpartum depression. Research indicates that this is one of the safest antidepressants for breastfeeding mothers.
More significantly, the US Food and Drug Administration recently approved Zurzuvae, the first ever oral medication found to be potentially effective in treating symptoms of postpartum depression.
However, it's essential to consult with your primary healthcare provider first regarding the correct medication regimine.
Coordinating With Your Physician
Make sure you have regular check-ins with your healthcare provider if you’re taking any medications for postpartum depression. These check-ins, which should be at least monthly, if not bi-monthly, allow your doctor to properly monitor your response to your treatment and manage potential side effects.
This also provides the opportunity to discuss additional symptoms you may experience after giving birth with an expert.
» Need convenient access to medication management? Try online therapy services for prescriptions.
Postpartum Depression: You're Not Alone
Celebrate the little milestones and reflect on your progress and good moments during your recovery. I feel this can help you focus on your new baby, even when dealing with depression and the stress of parenthood.
Share these happy times with someone close as well—it can help strengthen your bond with your baby. Remember, with the help of others and by staying strong, things will get better. I hope you find my tips helpful. Ask for help and be good to yourself. You can handle more than you think—the tough times can end with the right tools.
» Want to improve your well-being for free? Try these ways to keep mentally healthy.