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Professional Help for Post-Partum & Pregnancy Depression

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Health & Medical > Professional Help for Post-Partum & Pregnancy Depression


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2010 - 2012 Recommendations


Psychiatrist for anxiety/PND near Albany

July 2012

I am moving to Albany from overseas and need to look for a psychiatrist to manage my ongoing anxiety and postnatal depression. I don't have a preference for gender but would prefer someone who is relaxed, understanding and supportive. I am currently on antidepressants but hope to wean off these with help. Thanks in advance! B.


Hi, I can highly recommend Michael Ratener who sees women with postpartum issues and knows a lot about meds and nursing, if that is important to you. He is at 510 981-0800. Also, I just responded to a post asking for a postpartum depression group and therapist. I recommended Lee Safran and she helped me get in to see Dr. Ratener ASAP which was helpful as many of the psychiatrists had long wait lists. Since you are overseas, you may want to make contact right away. Nicole

Need expert in postpartum thyroid/depression

Feb 2012

We are desperate to find an expert/someone with experience with postpartum thyroid (we think) and postpartum depression issues.

I am almost 3 months postpartum with my 3rd child and started having sudden and severe symptoms of postpartum depression about 1 1/2 weeks ago. I had/have almost every symptom on the list: tons of crying, frustration, hopelessness, feeling like it would never end, feeling like I was losing my mind, feeling like a terrible mother, feeling overwhelmed, feeling worthless, etc.

After days of misery, there was a day of almost ''mania'' (felt energetic, almost happy, and cleaned, worked out, walked miles with stroller, etc.) and then I swung back to a pretty low low and now seem to be ''swinging'' back and forth fairly unpredictably. My GP told me that swings and days or periods of feeling OK or even manic are not at all characteristic of PPD or other types of depression and that it was hard to know what might be going on with me since ''your symptoms keep changing daily.'' He cut my thyroid medication dose almost in half at 7 weeks and since this situation started, my OB has subsequently said she would have left it at pregnancy level dose for 6 months postpartum.

I am hypothyroid in my ''normal'' state but did not have postpartum issues with either of my other pregnancies. My husband and I have been trying to learn what we can online and it seems like there is a known issue of ''post partum thyroiditis'' and some disagreement about whether or not it's linked to post partum depression. At this point, we're not sure if I have either or both; the only thing we know is that I feel terrible as a general rule and that this won't be good for anyone if it persists.

Would love to hear from doctors, therapists, moms, families who have experience with these issues or recommendations for help ASAP.


Get to an endocrinologist! I am hypo and my thyroid went crazy after both deliveries. You don't say if your TSH has been tested - and there is mixed evidence on testing since it can be so crazy. I was given a slightly lower dose after testing, and eventually went back up to pre-pregnancy does. Did just add in Cytomel - I highly reccomend that if you can get your doctor to add it in - helps with thyroid and mood. My guess is that your thyroid is a mess but you may also have PPD. Maybe treat both until you feel more 'sane'. PP thyroid stuff took about 3 months to shake out for me. Hang in there and keep talking to family and friends and pushing doctors for support. Take care
I have been treated for autoimmune hypothyroidism since my early teens, and I was monitored closely during all three of my pregnancies. Since levels of estrogen and other hormones can play havoc with thyroid levels, pregnancy and the post-partum period are especially sensitive times for people who are hypothyroid. My gynecologist referred me to an excellent endocrinologist in Orinda, Dr Randall Ammon [(925) 254-3805)]. Coincidentally, my best friend was referred to him by her doctor, also for an endocrine issue. Dr Ammon is extremely thorough--he knows his stuff, and he's meticulous. He will explain his thinking to you. Although he doesn't have a warm bedside manner, he's excellent at what he does. In addition to seeing an endocrine specialist, it sounds as though you're in a place where a therapist would be useful as well. I don't have anybody local to recommend, but I'm sure you can find a good fit. Good luck! Andrea
I certainly can't offer medical advice but have some experience with depression/thyroid issues. If you haven't already, get thryoid testing beyond TSH: t3, free t3, t4, etc. That will give you some hard figures that will help you work with your doctor on your thyroid dosage.

Also, you might want to work directly with a psychiatrist; internists are not the best at medicating mood disorders. I can't tell from your description if your ''almost manic'' day was just a day you finally felt energetic, or if it was accompanied by racing thoughts & other symptoms that could indicate a minor bipolar episode with rapid cycling. There's no diagnostic test, so you want someone experienced, with common sense, who's up on the latest on women, pregnancy & mood research (maybe Stanford or UCSF?)

A doctor of mine who had 3 kids told me that breastfeeding her children brought on a terrible postpartum depression: she couldn't stop crying. She said as soon as she stopped, the depression lifted. She was from a traditional culture and said breastfeeding is probably better for your children, but having a functional mother is lots more important! So there is a not-well-understood relationship between mood and post-pregnancy hormones. Could your day of energy have been related to breastfeeding? Just a thought. --Good Luck


Another mom I know highly recommends Dr. Nathan Becker in San Francisco. She says ''...he is located on Parnassus Avenue across from UCSF. His phone number is 415-681-7707...he is the leading endocrinologist in the nation.'' This doctor was so helpful to my friend that she still travels to California twice a year to see him. Zoe P.
I am a psychologist who specializes in treating postpartum mood disorders. Hard to say what is going on for you, but issues with thyroid function during the postpartum period are not uncommon. Whenever someone presents with symptoms of postpartum depression/anxiety etc., it is standard to have your thyroid function tested. Sounds like there is a history of thyroid issues and this should definitely be ruled out. I would recommend that you have your primary care doctor or your OB test your thyroid function so that you can have a clearer sense as to whether this is contributing to your mood issues. Postpartum depression/anxiety/bipolar disorder can come on suddenly, and rapid cycling bipolar disorder should be ruled out as well. Gina

Delayed PostPartum depression?

March 2010

Hello, I delivered my twins 8 months ago and went back to work, part-time in November. I am wondering if it possible to develop late postpartum depression. All I want to do is sleep or run away. I'm sure this is normal for new moms, but it seems to be coming on pretty late in the game. I can't wait for each day to end so I can be done with the day and go to sleep. I love my husband but feel so distant from him, don't really want to be around him (or anyone else), and feel like an awful mom. I am on medication already for depression and was ready for this 8 months ago but am feeling pretty awful lately. Because of financial reasons, I cannot keep seeing my psychiatrist who charges about $200 a half hour. I need a psychiatrist who takes insurance (Blue Shield Blue Cross). I live in the Pleasant Hill/Walnut Creek area and need someone on this side of the tunnel. Thanks. Anon


while i dont have a therapist rec for you, i can say that i am 2 years postpartum and still feel that way. its hard because all you read about ppd is only for the first 6 months or so, and then you are left with -''well then what is wrong with me??'' i talked with my np at my last visit (where i was in tears about it) and she said she hears this *all* the time, from women of all types. its nice to know we arent alone, but doesnt really help things does it? i think how you are feeling is pretty normal but should still be addressed. i will say as they get older it gets a bit easier, but all those feelings will still exist so it'd be nice to have someone to talk too. you are not alone
I believe you could have delayed post-partum depression. The hormones involved are heavily fluctuating for at least the first year after giving birth. My own post-partum depression was not delayed, but I completely understand how crushing yours must be. I am 18 months out and am still battling mine. I have found an excellent psychiatrist in Orinda, Dr. James Gracer. He has helped me immensely and never gives up. He takes my insurance, Cigna. His phone number is 925-253-0567.

2007 - 2009 Recommendations


Treatment options for postpartum depression, pre-existing

Jan 2009

Hi. I had depression before getting pregnant, stopped taking my anti-depressant, and now am experiencing postpartum depression. I am going to go to the doctor soon to address this, but was wondering if anyone has been through this as well and what are some of my treatment options (specifically for medication) if I am breastfeeding still. Thank you. J.


I'm sorry you're going through this but good for you for seeking help. I had postpartum depression and finally sought treatment when my baby was seven weeks old. I was given (and am still on) a generic for Zoloft, which treats depression and anxiety, and is safe to take while breastfeeding. It works very well for me, and I know other moms who have been prescribed the same medication. Good luck and know that things WILL get better when you get into treatment. SB
My therapist Joanne Davis is starting a Postpartum Depression support group in Albany. I highly recommend her - you can email: joannedavismft@gmail.com or call 510-295-3270 if you're interested. Best wishes.
Hi, I know there is lots of past advice on this, and of course I don't have a medical opinion, but I thought it might be helpful to hear a personal story. I had depression before pregnancy and was taking Zoloft. I stopped when we were trying to get pregnant. About five months into the pregnancy, I had debilitating anxiety and depression, and after consulting doctors, doing research, and much soul searching, I went back on the Zoloft. I have been on it since then, and my daughter is now six weeks old and exclusively breastfeeding. She is in perfect health and doing great. Everything I read and the medical professionals I talked with convinced me that I wasn't doing her any harm by doing this, and that it is far preferable to the negative impact my depression and anxiety would have on her. Also, I'm doing well on the Zoloft and haven't had any postpartum depression, which I was quite concerned about given my history. Good luck with your decision. Content on medication
I also took antidepressants before pregnancy, stopped taking them, and then experienced post-partum. My OB/GYN prescribed Sertraline (Zoloft generic) while I was breastfeeding, and it worked great. no longer depressed
i went through severe postpartum depression after i gave birth to my 1st child. it was awful. so bad i could hardly function. my primary physician didn't have a clue as to what i was going through, neither did my obgyn. in my search for help i was referred dr shoshana bennet. she knew exactly what i was going through and gave me the support i needed to get better [which included medication]. as difficult as this may sound, you should be enjoying your baby. suffering from depression made that impossible for me. shoshana's info http://www.hypnosisnetwork.com/therapists/therapists_sbennett.php good luck and i hope you get better soon
My wife's postpartum depression was noticed and diagnosed by our pediatrician, Wolffe Nadoolman, in Berkeley. He has been to seminars at Pospartum Support International--their website is really helpful (he told us about them). He was amazing and helped us get through it. His approach was to see mother and baby very often, and at one point he called every evening to see how the day went. He had a very rational approach, dealing with each fear and worry one by one, with the idea that as those anxieties are discussed and dealt with openly, a lot of the self-doubt can heal. He seemed way more aware of postpartum depression than the OB and really was the key to us getting past it. frank
I would like to recommend my colleague Lee Safran, MFT, who facilitates a postpartum support group in North Berkeley on Saturday mornings. Lee would also be an excellent therapist to consult with individually regarding your questions and concerns. She can be reached at 510-496-6096. Yvonne Mansell

Postpardum Depression Treatment

Jan 2009

Hi. I suffered from depression prior to my pregnancy and now feel that I am suffering some postpartum depression as well. Before pregnancy I took Prozac, but stopped when I found out I was pregnant. I am planning to see a doctor soon, but am not sure that my primary physician will know much about depression or postpartum symptoms and treatment. Was wondering if anyone else has been treated for this and know some treatment options including medications that are safe while breastfeeding or other alternative options. I would like to have some treatment options in mind before making my doctors appointment. Thanks. east bay resident


I too was on prozac until I found out I was pregnant, and then I immediately weaned off of it. I was fine after that birth four years ago, but got a bad case of postpartum depression after the birth of my second child three months ago. I assumed that I would be put on prozac as that was what I used successfully before. Turns out zoloft is the drug of choice for breastfeeding moms because so little passes into the breastmilk. I've been on the minimum dose of zoloft since my daughter was two weeks old and I feel great. I don't know about other treatments but zoloft has worked really for me. Andi
I would like to recommend my colleague Lee Safran, MFT, who facilitates a postpartum support group in North Berkeley on Saturday mornings. Lee would also be an excellent therapist to consult with individually regarding your questions and concerns. She can be reached at 510-496-6096. Yvonne Mansell, MFT
Before you embark on any further treatments with SSRI medications I urge you to take a look at a few websites on the subject. One is www.paxilprogress.com. There is also a great book on the subject by Ann Blake Tracy called ''Prozac Panacea or Pandora. Once viewing those you won't want to be taking any SSRI medications while breast feeding for sure and likely you will have serious concerns that you did use them ever and if you should continue to do so. If you are still taking them now you may need to wean off them slowly. Alot of folks report various problems when discontinuing those drugs too quickly, others report profound problems after getting off the drugs or trying to get off of them that are much worse than the original symptoms and in some cases have been permanent. Try to find a solution that doesn't involve the use of SSRI drugs unless absolutely necessary (if there is such a thing). Supposedly these drugs were tested in humans for only a week or two before public release by the FDA to the masses. How long were you on Prozac? Most doctor's knowledge about these drugs is limited to what the pharmaceutical reps tell them when they drop off free samples for the doctors to pass out. Be an informed consumer! anon

Post-partum depression therapist?

Jan 2009

Hello, I just moved here and I would like to find out if there are any specialist therapists for post-partum depression in the area that someone can recommend. I am looking for one to one therapy as well as perhaps some new mother's groups in the area, if such a thing is happening around here. thanks. G


Hi, I'm sorry to hear that you are dealing with postpartum depression. But, I have a great referral for you. I have worked with Lee Safran after having incredible postpartum anxiety with my second child. She was incredibly helpful to me both in terms of working in the present with my irritability and fear and as well as looking at my past which (in my case) contributed a lot to the upheaval I experienced. I know she also runs groups for postpartum depression. What has been great about working with her, is that I have gone back for check-ins and she remembers me so well that I don't feel like I'm starting over with someone new when I want to focus on a specific issue. She is in Albany and can be reached at 510 496-6096.

I've also spoken with Shoshanna Bennett on the phone and she was very helpful, but that felt more like a consultation than therapy and it was super expensive. Good luck and take good care of yourself. If I've learned anything it's that taking care of myself is what helps me take care of my kids. Another Mama Whose Been There


Psychologist for post-partum depression

Sept 2008

Does anyone have any recent recommendations for a wonderful female psychologist who I can see for post-partum depression? I do need to see someone who can prescribe medications. I'm not in the Kaiser network, and I'd like to find someone in the Berkeley area. Thank you.


Hello I don't know of a doctor -- but just as an FYI -- psychologists cannot prescribe meds. You will need a psychiatrist -- or a primary care physician or another type of medical practitioner like a nurse practitioner. kate C.
I suffered from PPD with my first child and vowed I would get help the second time around which I did. I highly recommend Dr. Shoshanna Bennett (www.drshosh.com). She is simply the best and highly respected within the community. Thanks to her guidance I was able to avoid the black hole of PPD. Best of luck to you! anon

Psychiatrist for hormone-related mental health issues

Aug 2008

I'm looking for a psychiatrist who can help me with women's mental health issues. I have a lot of hormone-related mental health issues, e.g. PMS, depression/anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum, plus I'm starting to wonder about effects of varous birth control methods. I currently have a psychiatrist, who is fine at managing my meds, but he's sort of impersonal and doesn't really *get* the women's issues. Any recommendations? Maybe a female doc this time? I'm on Blue Shield.


One of my friends who had very similar complaints as yours, has had tremendous relief and success with psychiatrist Karen Johnson, MD in Oakland, CA. I saved the doctor's name and am happy to pass it along, as this doctor is someone I know can be an excellent resource. Best wishes! Louise
A local complementary medicine MD (OBG, not psychiatrist) who specializes in women's issues, especially perimenopause and menopause, is Sara Gottfried. She teaches yoga (and yoga/menopause) classes, and sees individuals in her medical practice. A friend has worked with her with great benefits. She's in Oakland (510)601-7111; website: http://doctorgottfried.com

2004 - 2006 Recommendations


Psychiatrist for pregnant woman

Nov 2006

I would like to recommend a psychiatrist to a friend who is in mid-pregnancy and suffering from depression. Can anyone recommend a good psychiatrist who is familiar with issues around medications and pregnancy? alena


Three local psychiatrists who specialize in this area: Heather Clague 510.869.4999, Monika Eisenbud 845.1968, or Phylis Cedars 466.5636. Good luck - Gina H.

Psychiatrist for post-partem anxiety

June 2006

I am seeking a psychiatrist for post-partem anxiety. My choices (through my insurance plan) are: a) John Rosenberg; b) Donald Stanford; c) Mike Gumble and d) Jane Delay. Does anyone have experience with any of these doctors? I prefer someone who has some warmth and is not just a drug-dolling autobot. CE


I have had a wonderful recovery through working with Dr. Jules Tanenbaum- he is in Walnut creek but worth the drive. b.
I would highly recommend Dr. Jane Dulay. She is caring, knowledgeable psychiatrist here in the East Bay. Michael Y. Simon, MFT

Psychiatrist who knows about antidepressants during pregnancy

May 2006

I'd like to find a psychiatrist who knows a lot about the pros and cons of being on antidepressants during pregnancy. Any help? Thank you! anon


I was on depression/anxiety medication during my pregnancy and used Dr. Peter Freedman. He knows what he's doing and is very caring. He is always doing research on this issue and knows the very latest in what is safe/not safe/risky. He's in Berkeley and his number is 510-549-3287. Good luck! anon
I don't have a specfic recommendation but as my partner and a few friends are psychiatrists, I can vouch that all of them know extensively about meds and pregnancy, as it is an important part of their learning process about psychotropic medications. So, better to find someone that you get good word about, and know that all of them know what they need to know about meds and safety issues/pros and cons, in pregnancy. Best of luck. Kate
I'm now in my second pregnancy and have continued taking Zoloft through both. My psychiatrist has been pretty helpful in working with me on the issues involved. Before my first pregnancy, we tried slowly reducing my dosage to try to come off of the meds and it was clear at a certain point that I was at the lowest dosage I could be at and still remain stable. He said that there are no known problems that come from using Zoloft during pregnancy, although there are known problems that come from being depressed. So even though there is a theoretical risk with any medication, for me it was the lesser of two evils. Anyway, his name is Dr. Lawrence Cohen and his number is 981-9141. I've appreciated him as my psychiatrist. Good luck. anon
It's a bit of a distance to go, but for really expert up to date advice, I'd try the Stanford Mood Disorders Clinic. Anyone there will be knowledgable. anon

Psychiatrist skilled with postpartum depression

August 2005

I'm looking for a more recent recommendation for a psychiatrist who is experienced in treating postpartum depression. I've never been treated for depression before but I'm expecting my second baby in October and I'm not sure I can 'tough it out' as I did/am doing after the birth of my first. I'm very nervous about going down this path (meds) but more nervous about not treating the problem. I have a list of people from HealthNet which provides no information about specialty, etc. Picking a name out of a hat is just exacerbating my stress. Any advice, recommendations would be most appreciated. anon


Greetings, I am a marriage and family therapist who works a great deal with postpartum depression/anxiety and parenting transitions. I think you are wise to look for a psychiatrist who can respond well to the postpartum period as being sensitive to and knowledgeable about various factors (nursing, changing dosage, etc.)is certainly not true for all psychiatrists. I currently refer to the following M.D.s re: postpartum depression.
Phyllis Cedars 466-5636 (often full)
Monica Eisenbud 845-1968
Michael Lowenstein 925 258-9302
Michael Ratener 1-888-246-1964 (open to alternative medicine)
Please feel free to contact me if you would like more information about any of these M.D.s. Also, I run a Postpartum Stress Support Group which I would be happy to tell you about. Group members certainly feel that not having to ''tough it out alone'' makes all the difference. All my best, Lee
I highly recommend Dr. Emily Newman. She's based in SF -- but highly worth the trip across the bay. She helped me with my depression prior to my 2nd pregnancy -- and all the way through it. Like you, I had decided I couldn't ''tough it out'' like I did with my first. 257 Connecticut St. (415) 565-7101. anon
I saw Steven Joseph in Albany, and I think he's wonderful. Though he does not specialize in PPD, he was extremely helpful, and is one of the few psychiatrists who practices real psychotherapy, instead of focusing on meds, though he does it all. He also has a Jungian background. Shoshana Bennett (sp?) is THE resident expert on PPD, however, and had she not been located so far away from me, I probably would have sought her out. She is in Walnut Creek, I believe. She is well-known, written an important book on the subject, and has experienced the condition herself. been there, too

Prolonged post-partum depression

July 2005

Seeking opinions about Dr. Cary Littell and Dr. Ilene Philipson. I have moved from postpartum depression into something close to major depression, and would appreciate hearing from anyone who has seen one of these two therapists. Thank you. anon.


I can highly recommend Dr. Phillipson. She is a very smart, warm and competent therapist with many years of experience. She is very ethical, sensitive and be able to help with your depression. Good Luck. anon
Hi, I don't know about the 2 therapists you mentioned. But, I wanted to respond as I also have struggled with a prolonged postpartum depression. For me, a lot of old stuff came to the forground after having my second child and I was pretty imobilized. I have been working with Lee Safran, who has a practice on Solano and specializes in both depression and postpartum issues. She has been a lifesaver for me offering practical ideas as well as wise insight into some truly unresolved issues. She also runs a postpartum stress group which I can't attend (scheduling) but I imagine it's quite helpful. Her number is 510 496-6096. All my best to you and my encouragement in taking care of yourself - it makes all the difference. anon

Therapist for postpartum depression

Dec 2004

Soliciting recommendations for a Berkeley/Oakland area therapist who can deal with mild postpartum depression & related issues. I have a toddler at home, and an infant, and an unemployed husband. I am hoping to find someone who takes Blue Cross. I checked the archives, but found none of my blue cross-recommended therapists there. Thank you. anon.


I'd like to recommend my colleague, Lee Safran, MFT. Lee has extensive experience working with postpartum depression - she runs a group, as well as doing individual, and couple's therapy. She is competent and compassionate. I don't know if she is a Blue Cross provider, however I think that Blue Cross will cover for non-providers, at a reduced rate. Her office is in Albany and you can reach her at (510) 496-6096. Megan
I would recommend Fran Bennett for working with issues around depression. I saw her for group therapy and really liked her. I'm not sure what insurance she takes but if she doesn't take blue cross, I would ask about a sliding scale payment plan. (I would ask that from any therapist if my insurance wouldn't help me out.) Fran works in Hayward and her number is (510) 888-2415. Good luck! anon.
I went to see a woman named Alisa Genovese in Kensington, right on the circle. She specializes in post-partum issues. It helped save my life!!! Her phone number is 510-286-7599. She's also willing to work with the husbands/partners of the Mom. Good luck! happycamper22

2003 & Earlier


Psychiatrist for post-partum depression

April 2000

I'm looking for a recommendation for a doctor who specializes in post-partum depression. I'm currently covered by Kaiser, but anyone outside the system is fine.


One of the Bay Area specialists in postpartum depression and also in womens hormones and mental well being is at Kaiser Oakland. Dr. Jeanne Leventhal in the Department of Psychiatry.(This is number for her nurse. I don't know if it is the way to make an appointment, but try it 596-7899) Sherry
I highly recommend Dr. Judy Schwartz, a Berkeley psychiatrist who offers talk and/or drug therapies for hormonally related problems among others. If she currently has no openings, ask her for recommendations of other practitioners with expertise in this area.
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