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How do I deal with a patient who has postpartum depression?

Childbirth can be a physically rough experience for mothers, but mothers have more than just physical difficulties to contend with. Some mothers have to deal with an emotional condition called postpartum depression. This depression goes far beyond simple sadness and can lead to erratic behavior such as violence and suicide.

As a nurse, here are a few things that you can do to aid a mother who is suffering from this condition.

1. Let the patient know that it’s okay to seek treatment for her condition. Assure her that she isn’t “crazy” for having these feelings. But let her know she should get treatment for this very real illness.

2. Make her aware of the treatments available. There are a variety of options: medications that don’t affect breastfeeding, acupuncture, support groups and counseling.

3. Don’t hesitate to tell a physician about the patient’s condition. If the patient is unwilling to seek help, make the attending physician aware of the situation in that this illness can be devastating if uncontrolled and severe.

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3 Responses to How do I deal with a patient who has postpartum depression?

  1. Granny Rene, RN x 35 yrs

    Hold your patients’ hand and remind her that her body is undergoing a very sudden and MASSIVE change after childbirth with all kinds of hormones flooding her system.
    The biggest thing that the ‘normal’ mom with PP depression has is FEAR that she will not be able to bond with her new baby and take care of her other children. And this is a VERY real problem now that close support systems (grannys, neighbors, etc.) often work, live far away and are otherwise not around to help with a newborn, other children AND a frazzled and worn-out new mother.
    Very often an antidepressant can help over the PP recovery period if an alert nurse can bring it to the MDs’ attention because the new mom very often will not admit a problem in front of her husband, family, etc. But this is a woman thing and we have to help our sisters take care of themselves!

  2. Anonymous

    Women need to hear that they’re not bad people for suffering from this misunderstood bio-chemical condition. Thank you for the excellent advice for health care providers.

  3. Anonymous

    I’m so glad you have this tip about how to deal with patient suffering from postpartum depression. I’m having another baby by Oct, and though I don’t want to experience this again (I suffered from postpartum depression in my last pregnancy), I want to be as open as possible that I might suffer from it again. And this information really helped me a lot. Big thanks!