After the birth of my previous child, I developed PPD. I didn’t take any medication (because I have a fear of medication) but instead tried to eat and live healthy first before consulting a doctor. It went away completely after about 1 year.
Since then we have discovered that my mother is Bipolar and I am due to have another child in a few weeks. I was going through a major bout of depression when I conceived this child and was getting ready to see a doctor about being medicated before I found out I was pregnant. My question is, should I be worried about a getting PPD again? And if I need medicated, should I mention to the doctor about my mother’s Bipolar since it could be inherited and not all antidepressants can be taken by somebody with bipolar (I have never been evaluated for it)?
A. There may be an increase risk of developing postpartum depression with your second child because you have experienced it with your first child. In addition, research suggests that with each subsequent child, the depression may be more severe. There is no way to predict with certainty whether you will develop postpartum depression again but given your history, you may be at risk.
The best way to deal with this is situation is to be proactive. Speak to your doctor. Inform the doctor about your history with postpartum depression and your concerns about its possible recurrence. You should also inform the doctor about your mother’s bipolar disorder history. It may or may not change your doctor’s treatment plan but it is important that he or she be made aware of all relevant mental health information.
Being proactive may help to prevent postpartum depression. Your doctor may suggest taking antidepressant medication immediately following delivery. That may not be your preference because of your fear of medication. Others prefer to take a “wait-and-see approach.” That is, they take medication only if they begin to notice the signs of depression. I would also highly recommend finding a good therapist. Your physician may be able to refer you to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of postpartum depression. All of these steps could prevent the development of postpartum depression.
I would also recommend educating yourself about postpartum depression. Some books that you may find helpful include: What Am I Thinking? Having a Baby After Postpartum Depression by Karen Kleinman and This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression by Karen Kleinman and Valarie Raskin. You can purchase both of these books in online bookstores but your library may also have them and many other helpful materials. A great Internet resource is the popular Postpartum Progress blog.
I hope that you are able to get the help that you need. Good luck and please take care.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Nov 2010
Randle, K. (2010). Treatment for Postpartum Depression and Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 11, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/11/09/treatment-for-postpartum-depression-and-bipolar-disorder/