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  • Writer's pictureK.C. Dreisbach, LMFT

How Postpartum Depression is Treated

Postpartum Depression is a serious problem. In fact, it is considered the most common complication of pregnancy and childbirth. The good news is, Postpartum Depression is very treatable, and many women make a full recovery with support of mental health professionals that specialize in this condition.

There are several, practical steps you can begin applying today, to help yourself feel better from your symptoms, such as getting enough sleep and making sure you are getting out of the house. You can check out my article, "Is Postpartum Depression Curable?" to learn about these easy steps you can begin applying right away.

In this article, I want to dive a little deeper into the different types of professional help you can get to assist you in managing your symptoms and achieving full recovery. We know there is still some stigma about going to therapy, but no one needs to know you're talking to a therapist! So don't let that stop you from getting help.

And, here's a little secret.... Did you know there are many women (and men!) who go to therapy each week just to talk?!? That's right! Therapists are not only for individuals who have a mental health condition- they make great coaches too!

Many individuals find a therapist just because they want an hour every week dedicated just to them and their own needs! You might call it selfish, but others call this preventative care.

Taking care of your Emotional-Self allows for you to have more patience and empathy when your child is testing your limits. This is an important part of great self-care. It will help you feel better, even if you are sleep deprived and rocking the messy hair-bun. So, let's talk a little about what treatment for postpartum depression might look like.

There are multiple treatment options for PMADs. Everything from traditional talk therapy to medications. It all depends on how you want to tackle this problem and what your treatment provider recommends. So, let's break down your treatment options.

Psychopharmacology (aka- Meds!)

Psychopharmacology is just a super fancy way of saying "medications." Whether it is Postpartum Depression, anxiety, OCD-like symptoms, or any other version of PMADs, medications are a fabulous option to help you feel better fast! The biggest hesitation here is if you are currently pregnant or if you are breastfeeding. If this is where you're currently at, you don't have to turn this option down.

Believe it or not, there is a sub-specialty in psychiatry known as "Reproductive Psychiatry." These are psychiatrist that specialize in helping mothers suffering from PMADs. They know what you can take, how much to give, and all the possible risks you need to know about. They are AMAZING, but are also hard to find. Looking for a Reproductive Psychiatrist (aka- Perinatal Psychiatrist) is like looking for a unicorn... it feels damn near impossible! But they're out there!

If you're interested in getting connected with a Reproductive Psychiatrist, the best place to look is the Postpartum Support International (PSI) directory. It's a great resource to have on hand. And, if you can't find a Reproductive Psychiatrist in your area, you can always connect your OB-GYN, psychiatrist, or family doctor to PSI's National Psychiatric Consultation Line. It provides your doctor access to free consultation with a Perinatal Psychiatrist that can help your doctor determine the best treat options for you.

Peer Support & Psychoeducational Groups

Having a new baby can feel extremely isolating. Mothers often feel trapped in their own home, brewing a sense of loneliness. This, in turn, feeds into depressive symptoms and creates a breeding ground for anxious thoughts. Joining a peer support group can be one of the best things you ever do for yourself.

For women especially, having a sense of community with other moms can help you feel normal, validated, and supported. These groups help you connect with other individuals going through a similar experience, allowing you to see you are not alone. Members often form deep friendships, share resources, and help each other out when things get a little dark. But so many women fail to take advantage of this excellent treatment option that is often FREE!

Here's the thing, women often feel nervous about talking to other women. We're so afraid of being judged by our peers or feeling as though other people will view us as "crazy" or as a "bad mom." But what we forget is that peer support groups comprise of other women fearing the same thing! Furthermore, support groups organized by professional organizations usually have facilitators that are trained to help make sure the group remains helpful, respectful, and positive.

If this sounds like an option you might be interested in, you can check out PSI's website. They have peer support groups for all kinds of moms, including military moms, LBGTQ parents, single moms, etc. They even have a group for dads!


Psychotherapy is the formal name for "talk therapy." Whenever people think about seeing a psychologist or therapist, this is what they're thinking of. Traditional talk therapy is, arguably, the king of treatment for PMADs. It's well researched and empirically supported to be effective and safe for both mom, dad, and the baby.

Now, for a long time, PMADs were on the "hush hush." Nobody really talked about it. If you wanted to find a therapist, any therapist was an option. Over time, however, people began to realize that Perinatal Depression was its own specialty. There were special considerations that therapists needed to think about when treating pregnant and/or postpartum moms. As such, a movement began, a long with a lot of research, and from there, a specialty within the field of psychology arose.

Today, therapists that want to work with moms suffering from PMADs take specialized trainings to help them better understand the unique circumstances surrounding these conditions. Professional organizations have collaborated to make sure that providers are getting the extra training they need to effectively help families struggling with perinatal depression.

So, if you are interested in therapy, here's what you should be looking for....

1. Look for a Therapist with Specialized Training

Start off by looking for a therapist that has taken post-graduate training in PMADs. When you call the therapist, ask them if they have taken any specialized training in perinatal depression. It's ok to "interview" your potential therapist! You need to feel confident that the therapist you're working with has the skills to help you.

Look for a therapist who has been trained or certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT). There are A LOT of therapeutic modalities and treatment orientations, but when it comes to PMADs, these are the 2 modalities that have been proven over and over again to be the most effective.

2. Try Couples Counseling

If you think your relationship with your partner might be part of the problem, then consider Couples Counseling. Even though you might be suffering from a PMAD, easing the tension and conflict in your romantic relationship can greatly improve your symptoms and help you to feel better. In this case, you want a therapist that provides couples counseling. Although all therapists have the capacity to do couples therapy, not all of us actually provide this service.

3. Consider an Attachment or Parent-Infant Specialist

Finally, you can look for a therapist that utilizes Attachment and Parent-Infant Therapies. These treatment modalities include: "Watch, Wait, and Wonder," "Child-Parent Psychotherapy," and "Circle of Security." These modalities focus on building the bond between you and your baby, which can be helpful in the treatment of PMADs.

Where to Get Help for Postpartum Depression

There are so many places you can look to get the help you need. In this section, I'm going to provide you with some places you can look for help, as well as resources to help you on your journey to wellness.

Ask Your Insurance

Let's start by talking about insurance. Insurance companies have a variety of therapists that are "in network" with them, which means that your cost out-of-pocket might fit into your budget a little better.

Here's the problem with insurance companies, however... they don't classify therapist by specialty. That means that the list of therapists you get from your insurance company may or may not specialize in maternal mental health. So, you'll have some investigating to do.

Ask Your Doctor

Another place to check is with your OB-GYN. They might have some therapists that they recommend who specialize in maternal mental health. The only thing to remember is that these individuals may or may not take your insurance.

That doesn't mean you'll have to bare the full cost yourself, however. Most insurances have Out-of-Network benefits (aka- OON) that you can take advantage of. If a therapist states they can give you a "Super Bill," that's what they're talking about. More on that later!

Check Online Directories

Online directories are a great place to look for a therapist, especially if you are looking at the right ones! PSI has a fabulous directory, and in order to be listed in their directory, you have to have specialized training in PMADs. That means that ANYONE you find on the PSI directory is going to have the training you need! It just makes it that much easier.

Now, there are some other directories, but they aren't specific to Perinatal Mental Health. It doesn't mean that you can't find a specialist though. Some of the popular directories are:

Psychology Today

Good Therapy

Therapy Den

Affording Your Care

Now, once you find someone you really like to work with, we come back to affording your care. IF they take your insurance, then you're in good shape. If they don't take your insurance, (which is the case most of the time) then you'll need to consider private pay (basically paying out-of-pocket) or trying to utilize your OON benefits.

OON benefits are a well kept secret that can really open the door to you getting the treatment from the therapist you want. You can ask your therapist of choice if they can provide you with a Super Bill so you can get reimbursed by your insurance company for your treatment. Your out-of-pocket costs might still be higher than if you were to go with a therapist "in network," but utilizing your OON benefits will make it much more affordable for you.

Take the Step and Get Help

I hope you found today's post helpful on your road to health, happiness, and wellness. Check out the additional resources I've added to this post, and if you think you're ready to work with a therapist to treat your Perinatal Depression, you can utilize the resources to help get you linked to a provider.

Of course, if you live in California, you are welcome to reach out to me. Not only have I completed those specialized trainings in PMADs, I've also been trained in CBT and IPT. Remember, even if I'm not in network with your insurance, we can use your OON benefits to make treatment with me more doable for you! Give me a call, schedule a free 15-minute consultation, and let's get you back on the road to happiness.

With that said, Happy Parenting!


Perinatal Mental Health Resources


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Krystal Dreisbach is a licensed therapist, mindset coach, adjunct professor of counseling, and published author.  Her specialties include depression treatment, anxiety counseling, stress management support, and mindset coaching.  Learn more about Krystal and see how she can help you live a better life.

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