What is postpartum depression?
For a mother, childbirth is usually a joyful event associated with great happiness. Following a childbirth (Latin: partus), a short-term emotional state of distress, the so-called baby blues, can ensue, which affects quite a significant number of women. However, depression develops in around ten percent of all cases. This is often very distressing for the women concerned and is sometimes not recognized as an independent clinical picture.
It is quite typical for this clinical picture that the affected mothers cannot feel any joy in their child, that they feel guilty of being a bad mother, and that they are overburdened with the care of their child. In quite a few cases, the pressure of their environment to be happy about their child finally or to pull themselves together can lead to further destabilization. If the joy of motherhood fails to manifest itself, silent, unrecognized suffering often results.
An anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder can also develop as a concomitant mental illness, as well as a loss of reality with delusional thoughts.
Often, the mothers themselves notice the first signs of postpartum depression. In most cases, concerns are also expressed by the medical staff, such as the midwife or gynecologist, and by family members or at a social counseling center. In consultation with an expert, the diagnosis is usually confirmed.
The severity of the condition determines the individual treatment necessary for postpartum depression. Accordingly, treatment is provided on an outpatient, day-patient or full-inpatient basis. Our department is able to offer all three options.
The mother-child consultation hours in the gynecological clinic offer outpatient diagnostics and treatment. The mother-child consultation hour is a joint project of the University Department for Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy.
The treatment of postpartum depression consists of psychotherapy, social counselling, establishing contacts with other support services such as family midwives or counselling facilities and, in some cases, drug treatment. If the use of medication is necessary, Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM), the determination of the levels of drug in both blood and breast milk, ensures therapeutic safety.
Day care treatment
If outpatient treatment is not sufficient, day care treatment can be provided at the psychosomatic day care clinic. The mother and child remain in their familiar living environment and attend therapy during the day from Mondays to Fridays. Our nursing staff cares for the infant during therapy sessions. We cooperate closely with the University Women's Hospital, which is located in the immediate vicinity. We also work closely with the attending gynecologists and midwives. Relatives are integrated into the treatment in consultation with the patients.
The therapy is individually tailored and consists, among other things, of psychotherapy in individual and group settings, socio-pedagogic counselling, art therapy, relaxation techniques, physiotherapy, and psychopharmacotherapy.
For very severe postpartum depression, we recommend full inpatient therapy. On our wards 5-West and 5-East, we offer the option of accommodating a child up to the age of seven months. Therapeutics available are equivalent to those of day-care treatment.
Making an appointment
Appointments for mother-child consultations, also feasible for fathers, can only be arranged via our outpatient clinic office: +49 931 201-77800