• Adapted with permission from Sichel, D. & Driscoll, J. W. (1999). Women's moods. What every woman should know about hormones, the brain, and emotional health. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc.


  • • Women who are depressed after birth often have little appetite, and no energy to prepare meals. The body needs good food to heal so every effort should be made to eat well. Family and friends can really help with food preparation.

  • • A multivitamin every day will provide some of the basic requirements for vitamins.

  • • Fluids are important for both health and breastfeeding. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water every day will help both mother and baby.

  • • Stay away from alcohol because it has a depressant effect and can make postpartum depression worse.


  • • Women who are depressed after having a baby feel like their world has come to an end and often feel very guilty and ashamed. This is NOT her fault.

  • • Understanding and acceptance by family and friends is essential for her to begin to believe in herself again.

  • • It is important to get professional help to cope with the depression and to begin to recover.

  • • Support groups are an excellent idea. The best understanding comes from those who have experienced postpartum depression. Information about these groups are listed below.

Rest and Relaxation

  • • Sleep is critical for health and healing. Most women with postpartum depression have difficulty sleeping.

  • • Try different strategies, such as a warm bath before bedtime, massage, relaxation techniques, or meditation.

  • • When women are breastfeeding, they may need assistance with one night-feeding in order to get some uninterrupted sleep. Call for help if she goes without sleep for more than two days.


  • • It is helpful to draw on what has made her feel uplifted and joyful in the past. Many things, from formal religion to listening to music that helps her find a sense of well-being, will in turn, give her strength to cope and begin to recover.


  • • Physical exercise improves brain function and a sense of well-being.

  • • Set up a program that is realistic, taking small steps to increase her activity. Family and friends can help with short walks, or with offers of childcare while she exercises.

The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JMWH suggests that you consult your health care provider. This page may be reproduced for noncommercial use by health care professionals to share with patients. Any other reproduction is subject to JMWH approval.

The patient information provided here was supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Western Psychological