What Helps
© 2010 Postpartum Depression Alliance of Illinois. All Rights Reserved.
What should I do if I think I have Perinatal Mood Disorder?

  • Call your medical provider.
  • Call a therapist who specializes in treating pregnant or postpartum women.
  • Contact a support group.
  • Ask friends or family for help so you can take breaks.
  • Tell someone how you feel and find someone you trust that can help you.
  • If you feel that you need immediate care, call NorthShore University HealthSystem 1-866-364-MOMS hotline, your local hospital, 911 or 1-800- SUICIDE.
If you are a woman experiencing any of the feelings mentioned on the Symptoms Page, or if you are observing these signs in a friend or family member, contact a health care provider. A complete medical evaluation, including thyroid screening, is necessary as under or overactive thyroid and other diseases can mimic depression or anxiety symptoms. 

Most women suffering from postpartum mood disorders realize that something is wrong, but often do not seek help. The important thing to remember is that the symptoms are temporary and treatable with skilled professional care and social support.

It is important to remember that you are not alone, it is not your fault and with help, you will recover!
What self-help will help me feel better?

  • Support and reliable information about getting through depression and anxiety
  • Good nutrition and eating every three hours to keep your blood sugar in balance
  • Rest and breaks from childcare
  • Therapy and/or medicine from a trusted healthcare provider
  • Fresh air and movement getting out of the house
  • Practical help with chores
  • Talking to other women and families who have been through it and recovered


What kind of treatment will help?

Perinatal mood disorders (PPMDs) can be successfully treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. There are several types of psychotherapy that have been shown to be effective for depression including Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT ) have been shown as the most effective types of therapy for PPMD. Research has shown that mild to moderate depression can often be treated successfully with either psychotherapy alone.

Severe depression may be best treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Medication is especially appropriate in patients with more severe or chronic symptoms, prior episodes or family histories, or who have done well with medication in the past.

Reach out to informed providers until you get the treatment that is right for you and you will begin to feel better.


Can a support group help?

A support group can be helpful because it is safe place to talk with others who understand what you are going through. Groups associated with Postpartum Support International such as the group offered by the PPD IL Alliance are led by facilitators who encourage members to share non-judgmental support and suggestions for recovery. You can share your experience or simply choose to listen. Support groups are not a substitute for professional care and work best when used in conjunction with individual counseling and medication when necessary. They are a great way to reach out to others who understand and give support.

For a full list of resources in Illinois click here.
How should I choose a Mental Health Provider?

You may want to ask a mental health provider the following questions:

What specific training have you received in diagnosing and treating perinatal mood disorders?
Anyone can set themselves up to be an expert. Ask what conferences, training, workshops etc. they have recently attended or presented at and how many women with pregnancy or postpartum mood disorders have they treated.

Do you belong to any organization that educates its members about PPD?
The main organization in the US is Postpartum Support International.

What type of psychotherapy are you trained in?
Studies have shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IP) work best in treating PPD. CBT can help you identify and change inaccurate perceptions of yourself and the world around you, while IP focuses on how you behave and interact with family, friends, and other people in your life. Long-term psychoanalysis, which may continue over many months or even years, is usually not the best approach for PPD.

Source: MedED PPD supported by NIMH