Talk to your GP, midwife or public health nurse if you think you might have postnatal depression. Do not let worrying thoughts you may have about your baby stop you from seeking help.
With the right treatment and support, most women make a full recovery, although it can take time.
The vast majority of women are treated at home with their baby.
The are a few ways to treat postnatal depression.
- things you can do yourself
- professional support and counselling – a GP may refer you
- antidepressants – your doctor can prescribe a medicine that's safe to take while breastfeeding
Things you can do yourself
Reconnecting with yourself and doing things you did before motherhood can help improve symptoms of postnatal depression.
This can help your recovery, even if you are also getting psychological support or are prescribed medicine.
Professional support and counselling
Psychological support is also known as psychotherapy, counselling or talking therapy.
It can help you to make sense of your feelings and emotions. This can help you in coping with the symptoms of postnatal depression.
Counselling on its own can be helpful if you have less severe postnatal depression. It also works well, along with medicine, in more severe forms of postnatal depression.
Your GP may refer you to the local Primary Care Psychology Services or Counselling in Primary Care Services (CIPC). These are for professional support and counselling.
If there is a perinatal mental health service in your area, you may be referred to them for psychological support.
There are also several private psychotherapy services. But these can be expensive. Make sure your psychotherapist is registered with the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) - iacp.ie.
Medicine for postnatal depression usually involves antidepressants. If you use them correctly, antidepressants are not addictive.
Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. They can prescribe medicine that is suitable for breastfeeding mothers. If you are anxious about taking the medicine, talk to your doctor.
Antidepressants can take 2 to 4 weeks to fully work. You'll usually see an improvement after 2 weeks.
If you do not feel the medicine is working, talk to your GP.
You may need to continue taking the medication for up to 6 months after the depression has lifted. This is to avoid a relapse.