Treating Post-Partum Depression: a Review of Integrative Therapy

A News Update

The prevalence of post-partum depression, or PPD, may seem out of place in a society that seems to unabashedly celebrate the processes of giving birth and becoming a mother. Yet many women experience PPD, which is widely recognized as having an adverse effect on infants as well as the relationship between a mother and her child. With this potential for long-term consequences in family relations in mind, a team of researchers with the Boston University School of Social Work set out to examine the efficacy and methodological details of modern therapies in the field. The study found that overwhelmingly, the integration of the infants themselves in therapy sessions was hailed as resulting in higher success rates and more deeply reaching change.

The researchers based their work on interviews with a panel of mental health professionals, comprised of an educator, psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers, all of whom had twenty or more years’ worth of experience working with PPD patients. The interviewees described the ability of integrative therapies to help anchor the client in the present and create avenues of communication and understanding between a mother and her baby.

In the first few months of development, communication is a critical component of growth, yet many mothers, especially those suffering from PPD or related mood disorders, feel incapable of making such meaningful connections. The study’s body of professionals notes that introducing ways to understand infants and their behaviors during this time, as well as developing methods for response and interaction, can go a long way towards not only fostering healthy child development, but towards replacing the symptoms of PPD with positive, pro-active ideas and activities for affected mothers. The study aims to help mental health professionals increase their understanding of PPD and to spur new ideas about how to care for clients whether they’re new parents or as new to life as infants. The results appear in the latest issue of Infant Mental Health Journal.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Eve


    May 24th, 2009 at 7:52 AM

    It’s a good idea to see both parents and child getting help for PPD and there are studies out there to help professionals target this.

  • Gina


    May 25th, 2009 at 3:55 AM

    I think this is one reason mother’s have a lot of exasperating moments with children. There were times when I used to think my son is taking it out on me and derives vicarious pleasure in seeing me lose my cool. I think PPD explains a lot of things. Most people with PPD put stress on all their relationships.

  • Riley


    May 25th, 2009 at 5:36 AM

    Its’ sad to see something that should be joyous in a mother’s life become dread and sorrow due to PPD.

  • Maggie


    May 25th, 2009 at 11:55 AM

    Suffering with PPD is a horrible way to spend the first few months of your child’s life. Not only do you miss out on all of the beautiful new things happening in your family you are missing such a critical period of bonding with your baby that will never be replaced. It is about time that researchers have begun to look at this problem more seriously before even more people have to continue to suffer from this debilitating problem that many people do not even believe is real.

  • Heather


    May 26th, 2009 at 2:01 AM

    Everyone is concerned about the mother’s health before the baby arrives. Very few doctors actually counsel you with regards to the post natal period. It’s only people who have had children actually understand how tiring the whole thing would be.

  • Laura


    May 26th, 2009 at 2:44 AM

    PPD deserves more attention and it’s nice to see therapist out there paying more attention to this.

  • Paige


    May 26th, 2009 at 3:48 AM

    I really like this idea of making the infant a part of the therapy sessions for these moms for whom post partum depression is a real problem. It does not separate the mom and baby but provides a comforting and safe way to give them time together. This is one of the best things I have had the chance to read about in a while. Not only does this make sense in this situation perhaps there are other ways that more therapists can use this approach to solve other family therapy issues as well.

  • Gabbie


    May 26th, 2009 at 7:55 PM

    I think this is fabulous. My friend had severe PPD and she used to loathe her baby. Unimaginable but true. We all tried to ease it by taking turns at babysitting. I think sometimes bonding needs to be taught. Doesnt come easily for everyone.

  • Natalie


    May 27th, 2009 at 2:51 AM

    Wouldn’t be nice if all facilities offered this type of therapy? I would like to see more facilities, doctors or professionals offer this and help both mother and child.

  • Roy


    May 27th, 2009 at 1:19 PM

    After the birth of our third child my wife went into a severe funk. I was not only concerned about her quality of life but also that of our three children. She could barely take care of herself much less meet the needs of the kids too. If you have never witnessed anything like this during what should be a happy time in the life of a family then you have no idea just how scared for her I was. She could not do anything without crying and just could not seem to forge that bond with our youngest the way that she did with the first two girls. It took her OB to recognize that this was way worse than just the typical baby blues and that she needed serious help. I am so glad to have had her doctor step in say she needed help because alone I was just in over my head. She is doing better today with therapy and medication but that was one heck of a scary situation that I would not wish upon anyone. We had always wanted a bigger family but I am seriously rethinking that now because I am afraid of what may happen if she were to ever have to experience that all over again.

  • Jeff


    May 28th, 2009 at 11:29 AM

    Roy I feel for you because my wife went through the same thing. It was tough for all of us but we made it through. You will too.

  • Ona B

    Ona B

    May 29th, 2009 at 6:08 AM

    Post partum depression and recovery has always been made out to be such a dirty little secret. Moms aren’t supposed to feel ambivalence toward their own kids but when this type of hormonal imbalance steps in there is no way to control those feelings. I went through this years ago when doctors and my husband were all just telling me to suck it up and learn to live again but it is not that easy. I went through months of wanting no contact with practically anyone, and certainly not my baby. I regret that this had to happen to me but it gave me a good insight that men in these positions have absolutely no idea of what they are talking about, at least they did not until very recently. Sometimes I still think that there are people who do not think that post partum depression is a real thing, but let me tell you from my own experience that it is and it was very difficult to come through with any little bit of sanity left at all.

  • Tom


    May 30th, 2009 at 9:10 PM

    I came across this article much by accident. We have an infant of 7 months and I seem to have a monster for a wife these days. Things got so bad that I had to call in help from her mom as she has been sad and mad in spells. The mad spell was so bad that she flung a hot sauce pan at me 2 weeks ago. Luckily it missed!! I took her to her doc who has given her a mild sedative and it definitely is a little easier now that her mum is around to help. I definitely think it is PPD in her case.

  • Emily


    June 4th, 2009 at 3:11 AM

    PPD seems like it hits a lot more women than what is actually mentioned. The moms love their children even if they have PPD, but its the PPD that makes them act crazy. There really should be more doctors to take this in consideration and help the new mothers with this.

  • Oliver


    June 10th, 2009 at 8:59 AM

    Tom I am glad to see that things seem to be a little better but it took more than sedatives to help my sister through this. She had to go on major antidepressants for almost a year before she started to work through all of this. Just make sure that the sedatives are more than just a band aid and that she continues to get the help that she needs even if things look on the surface like they are better. Sometimes they really are not.

  • LP


    June 11th, 2009 at 10:15 PM

    Over time the symptoms of depression got easier to handle as I developed an understanding of the disease, and tireless work on my self from a bunch of angles reaped enormous benefits. Would you agree with this approach?

  • Allie


    June 21st, 2009 at 8:45 AM

    My mom had a friend who went through this and I think it really took a toll not only on my mom’s friend but my mom as well. don’t know much about it, but mom said her friend need to get help and maybe meds. thanks to my mom, her friend finally got the help she needed.

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