PP and depression: Hi everyone I have... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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PP and depression

EK2015 profile image
12 Replies

Hi everyone

I have found this forum very useful so I'm after some practical advice. I was diagnosed with PP at the end of June, when my baby girl was 10 weeks old and I started thinking she was special etc, was in hospital for 5 days, and have been at home since, taking olanzapine and since early Sep antidepressants too. I have very good support from family and the NHS, but I wanted to ask everyone here, how long did you feel depressed for? And what helped on a day to day basis? I just feel so low and not motivated to do anything, I guess that's normal but I'm so tired of it all...I feel maybe the antidepressants I'm on are not helping so will ask if I can change. Also hoping to reduce the olanzapine.

Look forward to your advice.

Many thanks in advance for everyone's time.

12 Replies
Jenny_at_APP profile image

Hello EK2015,

Welcome to the forum. It's great you've been finding it useful, it's so nice to have somewhere to share experiences and 'meet' others who have been through PP.

I had PP in 2012 and fortunately didn't get depression but so many do, I know you'll get good advice. Are you seeing your doctor soon for a review of your antidepressants? Definitely keep an eye on how you're feeling, a mood diary might help, it may take some time to find the right medication and dose for you.

I wasn't on the same antipsychotic as you, I took quetiapine. I was on it for 12 months before reducing off over 3 months. I know being on medication can be frustrating but it's early days so don't be too disappointed if your medication isn't reduced yet.

Recovery can be a long process, it's a big trauma to go through, but you will get there. I found I needed routine, maybe to try and feel just a little bit in control. Talking helped me a lot but I appreciate that not everyone is comfortable talking about their experience. I'm sure others will be able to offer some more practical advice.

Take care. All best wishes x

Lilybeth profile image
LilybethVolunteer in reply to Jenny_at_APP

Hello EK2015

I'm really pleased you have found the forum useful; you are very welcome here. Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl and thank you for sharing how you are feeling.

I had PP many years ago now but can well remember feeling low and not motivated to do much. PP is such a trauma to overcome and you have done really well in such a short space of time to be 'functioning'. With my first PP I was hospitalised for the first six months of my son's life and it was a similar picture with my second son, although I was mainly treated at home. That said, I know that times and treatment have changed for the better now.

I wasn't as self aware as you are but I found the medical care and interventions very helpful. Some days were harder than others and there were times when I was very low but with good care and family support I eventually made a full recovery, as you will. Do you have a CPN to pop in for a chat? I think when you have the balance of your medication right, you will see a difference in how you feel.

Take things day by day ..... it's not easy but you will have brighter days, especially looking forward to building happy memories with your daughter.

Be good to yourself and take good care.

JaneHW profile image

Just a comment on the olanzapine, to say that it is well known to numb and flatten emotion taken for any length of time. That is obviously v necessary when you're high/psychotic, but not so good as you start to recover. There are other less heavy meds you could switch to, like quetiapine, and a gradual change might help the depression. I found both of those two quite draining on energy, so perhaps some help with chores might be helpful, if you have friends/ family around. Also, even though you might not feel like it, try to go out and do things you used to enjoy like meeting friends, going to cafés, doing some shopping, doing some exercise. It might feel really strange and even futile at first but eventually something might just spark some enthusiasm. It's a really hard time in your life but you will get better. Jane X

twigwidge profile image

Hello. I was seriously depressed for 6 months , no motivation to do anything at all-didnt want to leave the house , and took to my bed when friends visited. I didnt think my life could ever be the same again and like you I hated feeling that way but coulnt make it shift. It began to lift at 6mths but I wasnt fully better for some time after that. I would definitley advise not to rush into anything at that stage -I did and was really upset with myself when I couldnt organise things as well as usual.

The things I found helpful were; keeping up with the bathtime and bedtime story routine .I really couldnt play with my 18mth old or look after my baby , my mum was there almost all the time ,however I found I could manage routines . Though I was felt I was going through the motions at first as time went on I slowly started to enjoy bathtime again and began to engage with my children as I had in the past.

I had two friends who insisted I go out for walks with them , I didnt want togo initially but fresh air and noticing the changes outside did help.

Another friend told me to take very small steps with things like cleaning , she said'' just have a go at tidying one bit of a room one day you'll find you can do it . the next time try something else -you'll acheive something and it will make you feel that little bit better'' .

A Nurse told me she had managed to get through each day by trying to find one small thing that made her feel good or looked nice- a flower , a birdsong ,anything at all. With me it was the getting into bed at 9pm and feeling the pillow cool under my face - I felt that if I could get a good sleep I could start again next day.

Stick with your antidepressants they take a good few months before you yourself feel they are working,though others might notice a change.

I extended my maternity leave too , it gave me that few months with my children where I felt I was a normal mum again. That in turn boosted my confidence when I returned to work.

It will get better, try to just take one day at a time.

Best wishes T.

Ellie_at_APP profile image


Welcome to the forum. You have had some good advice here already.

I'm really sorry to hear that you are suffering from depression. It is awful, and for me was the worse part of the illness. I had PP in 2011 and I did suffer from depression afterwards. I have to say each person's experience of recovery from PP is different, and takes differing lengths of time to recover from. I would say it's important not to focus on 'how long' it will take to recover, or pay attention too much to others lengths of time if that makes sense, as each person really is different. As others have said I too felt I would never be myself again and never recover at some points but here I am 4 years later, with an amazing bond with my son, supporting people through APP which has been a really amazing and privileged experience, working 4 days a week, and I can honestly say happier than ever in my life. I say that because hold onto that - you will most definitely get better and in fact positives may even come of the whole experience.

For me the depression wasn't a level thing as in I was depressed for X amount of time and was then well - I had ups and downs for a while afterwards so good days, bad days, and gradually the good days just got more and more until I didn't see a bad day again.

It's really good to hear that you have good support from NHS and family. In terms of what helped day to day here are some things I found that helped me:

a routine - I would try and do the same thing everyday - breakfast, watch same TV programmes even. I found a routine was really important to just get through the day and it made me feel safe. And a routine of 'self care' - e.g. force myself to have a shower etc.

Plan v small activities and force myself to do them - simple things like put on a laundry load, clean the kitchen etc. So in the morning I would say I will do X and Y and that will take me to midday. Those small things would just help me to feel I'd achieved something. I think over time doing those small things did build up my mood. It was like each time I did it was a fight against the depression.

Social activities: though they felt overwhelming and often I would cancel, but when I did see friends etc I almost always felt a little bit better.

Go out the house, even just a short walk, whatever I could manage.

CBT (Cognitive behaviour therapy) with a psychologist. Can't tell you how much this helped. Changing negative thought patterns that were fuelling the depression (e.g. instead of "my depression is harming my son" telling myself "my son's happiness doesn't depend on my happiness"). If you haven't been offered this ask for it. If it doesn't seem possible on the NHS and you can afford to pay privately for it do it - you can find information about therapists on this website and even find ones that specialise in perinatal issues: itsgoodtotalk.org.uk/

Also sometimes there are organisations that may be able to give you a reduced rate.

I probably only had 6-8 sessions and it helped so much.

As someone else suggested try to think of one or two positive things about the day and write them in the diary. Some days all I could write was "my babies smile" or "the sun on the sea" but I think it did help to see even the smallest positive thing, even though everything was such a struggle.

I know this is long - I hope that there is something here that may help you.

Thinking of you, and never hesitate to write on here


DEb12W profile image
DEb12W in reply to Ellie_at_APP


EK2015 profile image

Thanks everyone for the really useful advice and support, it is so nice to hear from other people who have been through it all...I had a really good meeting with my psychiatrist on Wednesday and he reduced the olanzapine to 10mg and changed my antidepressants, and I already feel a difference. Fingers crossed...! Thanks again, really good advice from everyone x

Ellie_at_APP profile image

Ah That's great to hear you had a good meeting with the psychiatrist and there's been a change of meds, I know that can make all the difference. hope you keep getting better x

Lilybeth profile image

Hello EK2015

Thanks for coming back to let us know how you got on with your psychiatrist. I'm glad you felt supported and that the change in medication seems to be working. Just take a day at time ... in your own time .... and you will slowly but surely fully recover.

In the meantime take very good care of yourself. We are always here if you need to 'talk'.

Strawberry55 profile image


I also suffered with depression following PP. personally I think mine lasted around 12months although it's hard to remember when your out the other end but everyone is different.

I was on an antidepressant too but I remember feeling numb and not being able to concentrate on anything. One thing I really tried to do was to carry on with a routine as normal. Get dressed and carry on, it helps you feel a little more normal on the outside.

Although I also had a supportive family I found I hadn't really processed things, I also found it useful to talk to someone and started writing poetry which helped.

I know people say it, and you don't believe it at the time but it does get better, and we're all here to help. Speak to someone about the medication too if you don't feel it's working.

Good luck and here if you need to chat anymore x

Ellie_at_APP profile image

Hi EK2015

Just wondered how you are? I also wanted to say I remembered a simple quote someone said to me in the MBU which I think sums up what advice I would give to get through depression and which Strawberry refers too as well "you've got to fake it to make it". When I was really low I'd tell myself that and force myself to do things...

Take care

Hannah_at_APP profile image

Hello EK2015,

Thanks for posting and welcome to the forum. There's some great advice already from the ladies above, but I also wanted to add that I felt really numb on Olanzapine. I didn't take an anti-depressant and I don't think I was clinically depressed as such, but I ost all confidence and was really tired and low after I returned home from 3 months in hospital. The Olanzapine made me a bit spaced out, "Chemically flattened" was how my GP described it which summed it all up perfectly.

I found that when my dose reduced, this helped a little each time. And coming off it completely was a milestone too. But it's best to do things gradually, you are doing so well to be only a couple of months on from your hospital admission and being able to have a lot of understanding and insight into how you are feeling. I was pretty and numb and useless really for a good few months and I had my episode in 2009 so before this forum was here. I'm so glad you've found the advice practical and are doing well though.

As others have said, it really does get easier and I know it's hard, but try and be patient with yourself. I know I couldn't wait to finish meds and get back to "normal", whatever that is. But if you are able to chat to your GP or other medical professional about a possible change to the anti-depressant, things will get easier as time goes by.

Take care, xx

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