Treatment for Postpartum Mood Disorders
If you suspect that you may be suffering from more than the baby blues, rest assured that there are professionals, support groups, and resources out there to help you through what may feel like a hopeless time. You may find comfort knowing that many of the individuals who support or treat postpartum mood disorders have either experienced or had a loved one experience a mood disorder in some form. The first person you should contact is your OB/GYN or midwife. Express your concerns and ask for a medical evaluation. Ms. Murdock warns that there are other medical conditions, such as a thyroid problem, which can be mistaken for postpartum mood disorders. Once you and your doctor have ruled out other medical conditions, ask for a referral to see a postpartum specialist. If your primary health provider does not know one, contact the organizations listed below and individuals there will provide you with a list of specialists in your community.
Dr. Michelle Friedman, a New York City-based psychiatrist, urges women suffering from postpartum mood disorders to seek help and know there is absolutely no cause for shame. They worry there may be something inherently wrong with them, or that they are "bad" because they have given birth to a beautiful baby but feel so miserable inside. Michelle certainly felt that way. "I looked at my baby and thought, 'I don't want to see this baby, I don't want to hold this baby, I don't want to be with this baby.' I just wanted to get out of the house, and I felt guilty." Postpartum mood disorders are simply biochemical, medical conditions exacerbated or caused by hormones after delivery. And suffering from one of these mood disorders "in no way means that a woman won't be a competent mom," reassures Dr. Friedman. A woman battling a postpartum mood disorder should feel confident that with proper treatment, usually a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants, she will be a wonderful mother to not only her baby, but if she so chooses, to more in the future.