Emotional Health · Parenting

Postpartum depression & anxiety:  Do I need medication?

Young woman in bed looks over at her night stand that has medicine and water.

Susan is a mother of 2 and experienced depression after the birth of her 1st child and again in her current postpartum period.  She has struggled with depression for most of her life…

During a support group, Susan mentioned that her doctor suggested medication but she is worried about becoming addicted.  She doesn’t believe in medication and rarely uses over-the-counter drugs. Jackie, another group member, acknowledged that she had been exactly like Susan but upon giving it a try was happy to say “it just got me back to myself.”  Another group member asks “but, do I really need medication?”

As a Public Health Nurse facilitating a postpartum adjustment group in Toronto, this is a common question that I’m asked by parents experiencing emotional difficulties such as postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety.

Everyone responds differently to medications.  If other methods of recovery haven’t been successful (such as self-care, exercise, increased support etc.), you and your health care provider may consider medication.  Many people are worried about taking medication for a variety of reasons; fear of transfer of the medication into breast milk, belief that depression can resolve on its own, fear of addiction and side effects, as well as the stigma of taking antidepressant medication.

However, there are times when extra support is needed and taking medication may help you regain the sense of hopefulness. You may find that the medication doesn’t change you but instead helps you, “feel like yourself again.”

When considering treatment options for PPD and anxiety, it is important to talk openly with your health care provider.

It’s important to consider the negative effects of untreated PPD on a parent, baby and family. Medication is not always required to recover from PPD but when indicated can make a positive contribution to your successful recovery. Discussing the risks and benefits of various treatment options will help you make the most informed decision.

Connect with a Public Health Nurse for support at (416) 338-7600 and learn more about our postpartum adjustment groups.

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