Why You Can’t Just Rely On Zoloft To Get Better with Courtney Novak



Courtney came on the podcast just shortly after getting off Zoloft.  She had been on it for about 4 and 1/2 years and on top of that, she officially got over the hump of postpartum depression.  She is depression free and I wanted to start off with that to let you know it is possible.


Courtney’s Story

Courtney is a proud mom to 2 wonderful kids.  Pippa is almost 5 and it started right away.  At the 3 month mark insomnia started. She had anxiety and started developing rituals.  Although she was not diagnosed with anxiety or OCD, she knows that as part of her story,  She was depressed too but she couldn’t see it.  Through her insomnia, she would sleep 3 hour stretched but then have a good night that happened once or twice awake. That was her reasoning that everything was ok.  She experienced some panic attacks and was very sensitive to her daughter’s screaming. In that time the dark thoughts started of throwing her so she would be quiet. Let’s be clear that she HATED the thoughts.  They scared her and she pushed them away.  Shortly after, family came to visit and when they left she realized she didn’t want to be alone with the baby and started crying hysterically. She was fortunate to have a supportive husband who left work to see her.  Her parents then were called came back, and after some talking, everyone agreed that it was best to move in with them so she could get some much needed rest and have extra help.

Obviously that’s not the ideal situation to move in with parents.  So she convinced herself after 3 nights that she was ok. She had an appointment with her obstetrician that day and went to see her. After explaining what she was going through she was diagnosed with postpartum depression which was a relief since she now had a diagnosis. Courtney thought what everyone mom does… “I have a healthy baby, a supportive husband, and family, I shouldn’t have a right to complain.” Through her visit, she had an instinct to share about her scary thoughts, and they admitted her to psychiatric wing of the hospital. She spent 4 nights there and was given Zoloft right away and after 3 days felt this intense energy and she thought she was ahving a manic episode.  Fortunately, that was her feeling normal again, and she came to the realization in that moment that what she was going through wasn’t her, it was depression.

The recovery was longer than what she thought it would be.  Courtney brought up the fact that society don’t treat postpartum depression like an illness.  If you break your back, you would be given ample amount of time to recover, and we need to treat PPD the same way.


Zoloft Wasn’t Everything

It took some time for her to realize that recovery was going to be more than Zoloft. She looked at the depression as an infection and all you needed to do was take antibiotics. The Zoloft did jumpstart her recovery, but she also did Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for about 7 months. That helped her with all the OCD rituals she started postpartum.  It really helped to rewire her brain.

The other part of her recovery was figuring out how to take time for herself and how to have fun again, and how to not feel guilty about EVERYTHING. She also had to figure out how ways to combat the boredom of motherhood.  Exercise was another big part of her recovery because she needed to get the good feeling hormones and endorphins going.

But one of the biggest thing for her was writing about her journey. She started journaling which turned into more and now she has a memoir coming out in April 2018.

Music was also great for her. All these simple things are forgotten when you’re in the trenches.

she was and is 2. Zoloft saved her life.  She was suicidal and contemplating exit strategies at one point in her postpartum depression journey.  Although medication isn’t always necessary, I fully believe in cases where you’re thinking of harming yourself or your baby, you need the medication to get out of the weeds and to function and get ready for the next step moving forward.


Courtney’s Side Effects with Zoloft

This may not apply to everyone, but I want to put it out there in case you can relate and have an answer to why you’re feeling the way you do.  She experienced crazy periods with hemorrhaging.  She was constantly changing her tampons and when she got off Zoloft, her period went back to normal.

But as a society, we still don’t really talk about periods, especially postpartum periods.  So she thought it was normal.

Her psychiatrist went on to say that they haven’t studied it enough and it’s affects on women, but it can affect your period by increasing or decreasing blood clotting. So according to her, there could quite possibly be a link.


Gentle Reminder

It’s scary to come off medication, especially something that has saved your life. You don’t have to get off medications cold turkey and do all. the. things.


Where You Can Find Courtney Novak

Check out her website at ppdadventures.com

She hosts her own podcast “Adventures with Postpartum Depression.”

Look out for her memoir coming out in April. Sign up to her email list for notifications.

Find her Pasadena support group: They meet every Thursday at the Family Room in San Marino from 1-2:30.

Feel free to email her at courtney@ppdadventures.com

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