My first grandson was born just under six months ago. My daughter lives far away so we're in touch by Skype and email much more than in person, but we talked and she always seemed alright, although she did seem a bit overwhelmed at times.
My son in law called me last night to say my daughter had been diagnosed with postpartum depression. I was surprised that it could show up so longer after birth, and I don't know much about it at all. I wanted to know, will my daughter be ok? What is the prognosis of postpartum depression and how is it usually treated?
Thank you in advance.
Concerned mom and grandma
I am sorry to hear that your daughter has postpartum depression.
Once the signs of postpartum depression have been recognized and a diagnosis has been made, treatment can consist of talk therapy alone, or antidepressants and talk therapy together, depending on the severity of the depression. If antidepressants are prescribed, people with postpartum depression usually stay on them for 12 months. Symptoms improve much more quickly, so this is done to prevent a relapse.
The prognosis? Postpartum depression can be overcome, absolutely, and your daughter will hopefully be fine very soon. Women who have had postpartum depression are at a higher risk of getting it again if they have another baby though, and they're also at a higher risk of other depressive episodes later in life.
An episode of postpartum depression usually lasts no longer than three to six months once treatment is commenced, so in that sense, the prognosis is very good. Your daughter has access to treatment now, which means she's on the road to overcoming depression very soon.
The outcome does depend on the severity of the postpartum depression and on other risk factors. Depression is less likely to come back if it was triggered by something specific that won't be happening again, such as, for instance, medical problems with the baby or job loss at the same time as having a baby, which is very stressful. If there is no obvious cause, someone who's already had postpartum depression is more likely to become depressed again.
Thankfully, antidepressants help lots and lots of people with depression lead happy lives.
Best of luck. For yourself, perhaps consider joining a support group for family and friends of women with PPD? It could help you figure out how to best help your daughter.
Treatment options for postpartum depression fall into two basic categories, talk therapy and antidepressant therapy (drugs). A third category could be social and emotional support for the person affected.
Talk therapies that have been proven to help women affected by postpartum depression recover include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Group CBT
Antidepressants have to be tailored to a patient's needs. No antidepressant has specifically been approved for use while breastfeeding, so if your daughter is still nursing, that is something she and her treatment team will have to work out.
In terms of support, it can help to have everyday tasks taken off her hands so she can focus on her recovery.
The first thought that entered my mind - as you're obviously an involved and loving mom and grandma - is, is there any way you could go over to spend some time with them? Your daughter is in a vulnerable position now, and she needs time to recover. If you have a good relationship, it would make her feel very loved and cared for to have you around right now, providing you can do that. It would also give her a trusted babysitter so she can freely attend therapy sessions.
I wouldn't worry about the long term right now and definitely don't bring it up with your daughter. The thing that matters right now is that she gets better, overcomes her postpartum depression, for right now. What will happen in three or 30 years doesn't matter now.
I struggled with postpartum depression for almost a year. It was the darkest time of my life, during what was meant to be the happiest time. I'm just posting here to tell you that I overcame postpartum depression, with the help of Lexapro, and your daughter can too. I took too long to get treatment even though I knew, deep down, that I had postpartum depression. Your daughter has already taken the most important step by seeking diagnosis and treatment. Better days are ahead. Today, I am not depressed any more and I have a great bond with my son. That year is just a dark memory now.
Therapy and antidepressants. In severe cases, the treatment might be done through an inpatient center, but most cases of postpartum depression don't require that, and will be treated on an outpatient basis.
The prognosis is very good. Mothers who were diagnosed with postpartum depression can start feeling better very, very soon after starting antidepressant treatment, and they may feel completely recovered within three to six months. Postpartum depression is a very common phenomenon. You probably already know someone who had postpartum depression, even if they did not tell you. People sometimes emphasize the fact that survivors of postpartum depression have a greater chance of becoming depressed again, but most don't.
I agree with the suggestion to go stay with your daughter for a few weeks or longer if you can, OP.
Postpartum depression affects daily functioning, hampering the ability to carry out chores and look after a baby, and it can also cause a terrible strain on a marriage, no matter how good the marriage is. Having someone else be there to take care of the mundane things while the mom with postpartum depression and her partner focus on her recovery can really help in the healing process.
If you cannot do that but want to help in other practical ways, getting her a house cleaner or having meals delivered to her house could also be really helpful.
You might be interested to know that, the earlier a woman starts showing symptoms of postpartum depression after the baby is born, the more at risk she is of severe depression and long-term consequences. Later onset postpartum depression is more likely to have an excellent prognosis.
It's true that nobody needs to be worrying about that while treatment is still ongoing, though!
As for what you can do to help right now, I think you've already gotten good suggestions. It's tough when someone you love is facing depression, but you will also have to trust that she'll be in capable hands once she starts treatment.