How can I Cope with Postpartum Depression?
The period following the birth of a child can be filled with a variety of emotions. There are many different feelings you can experience, from joy to fear to sadness. It’s possible that you may be experiencing postpartum depression (PPD) if your sadness becomes severe and interferes with your everyday life.
In most cases, symptoms appear within a few weeks of childbirth, but they may not show up for six months afterwards. There are various effects that can affect your mood, your relationship with your baby, and your ability to think and make decisions.
There is no need to feel alone if you are feeling depressed. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 1 in 7 American women suffer from PPD.
A visit to your doctor is the most effective way to diagnose and treat PPD. You can be evaluated by a healthcare professional and given an appropriate treatment plan based on your symptoms. Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from psychotherapy, antidepressants, or a combination of the two.
In addition to things you can do at home, there are also things you can do at the office and at school. For more information on dealing with PPD, keep reading.
Below are 7 Ways to Cope with Postpartum Depression
1. Exercise in your spare time
Women with PPD may benefit from exercise as an antidepressant, according to researchers in Australia. Taking a stroller with a baby on board may be an easy way to get some fresh air and get some exercise. Study findings published in Mental Health and Physical Activity suggest that walking can help ease depression in statistically significant ways.
Don’t have time to exercise for an extended period of time? Take 10 minutes to work out a few times during the day. There is an excellent resource for short, simple workouts that don’t require any equipment called Fitness Blender.
2. Ensure to maintain a healthy diet
It is not possible to cure PPD with healthy eating alone. In spite of the fact that nutritious foods will help you feel better and provide your body with the nutrients it needs, getting into the habit of eating them can be beneficial. Get a head start on the week’s meals by planning them on the weekend and even preparing healthy snacks in advance. Whole foods that are easy to carry on the go, such as carrots, cubes of cheese, or apple slices and peanut butter, are a great option.
3. Make time for yourself
The feeling of being stuck on the couch while breastfeeding can be quite frustrating. Whether it is your work obligations, your household responsibilities, or your older children, you may feel overwhelmed most of the time. Reach out for help instead of coping with these stresses on your own. Taking advantage of your mother-in-law’s offer of babysitting is a smart idea. If you want the baby to be left with your partner or another trusted adult for a few hours, let them.
Scheduling some dedicated “me time” every week might be helpful. It is still possible to decompress between nursing sessions, even if you are only able to spend some time away from the house. You can also try yoga and meditation, or you could go on a walk, take a nap, or watch a movie.
4. Create time to have some rest
If you’ve ever been told to “go to sleep when the baby sleeps,” you’ve probably found it annoying. However, these words are rooted in science. Women who get the least amount of sleep are also the most likely to experience depressive symptoms according to a 2009 report. There are particular consequences for women who sleep less than four hours between midnight and 6 a.m. or nap less than 60 minutes during the day.
Sleeping through the night is unlikely to happen in the early days of your baby’s life. Consider taking naps or putting yourself to bed early if you find that helpful. You might want to consider pumping a bottle so that your partner can handle an overnight feeding or two if you’re breastfeeding.
5. Preferably use fish oils
It is also a good time to increase your omega-3 fatty acid intake, such as DHA. Researchers report that women with low levels of DHA have a higher likelihood of developing postpartum depression, according to an article published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
One of the most reliable sources of DHA is seafood. If you are a vegetarian, flaxseed oil is also a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids. Supplements are also available at your local grocery store.
6. Examine your breast-feeding
Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of developing PPD, according to a study published in 2012. There is a possibility that this protection could extend as far as the fourth month after delivery. Keep nursing if it’s something you enjoy.
Although breastfeeding has been associated with depression symptoms in some cases, there are some women who develop depression while breastfeeding. The Dysmorphic Milk Ejection Reflex is a condition that occurs when the body releases milk from the ovary. A D-MER patient may experience sudden feelings of sadness, agitation, or anger for several minutes after their milk has been drained.
Choose the feeding method that feels right to you at the end of the day.
7. Try to avoid isolation
Some days may seem like they blend into one another, leaving you feeling isolated. Researchers found that talking about your feelings with others can improve your mood, as reported by the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Those who regularly spoke with experienced mothers who had previously experienced PPD had lower levels of depression than those who did not regularly speak with experienced mothers. Within four weeks of delivery and then eight weeks afterwards, the results remained consistent.
In spite of the fact that peer mothers in this study were given specific training on how to provide phone support, the power of social interaction cannot be underestimated. Get out of the house as much as possible, or at least talk with other moms and adults for support.
When can you see your doctor
There is no doubt that many women experience the “baby blues” during the first few weeks after delivering a baby, but PPD is marked by deeper and more persistent feelings of depression and agitation. In the absence of medical treatment, these feelings can become more severe and lead to chronic depression.
If you experience feelings of depression after giving birth, especially if they don’t disappear after a couple of weeks or get more intense, make an appointment with your doctor. The importance of treatment is not recognized by about 15 percent of women despite the fact that most should seek treatment. In order to get the support you need, you can seek the advice of your doctor.
Treatments using traditional methods
In the case of PPD, psychotherapy is the most effective treatment. The process involves talking with a mental health professional about your emotions and thoughts. It is possible for you to work on coping mechanisms and ways to solve problems during your sessions. Similarly, you can develop strategies and goals to deal with different situations in order to feel more empowered and in control.
Antidepressants may also be prescribed by your doctor in more severe cases. Women who breastfeed may lose some of these medications in their breast milk, but these medications are generally considered safe. You should speak with your doctor if you have any concerns about this. By weighing the potential benefits and risks, they can help you make an informed decision.
Creating a network of support
A close friend or family member can be a source of comfort when you are feeling down. In case you do not want to share your feelings with people you know, there are other places you can go for help.
Here are some options:
A healthcare provider such as an obstetrician or midwife would be able to help you.
Get in touch with your minister or another leader in your faith community.
You might be able to find a local PPD support group if you ask around.
Online forums like Postpartum Progress provide a great place to chat with other moms.
You can reach PSI’s anonymous hotline at 800-944-4773 if you are experiencing postpartum depression.
There is a treatment for PPD. Within six months, many women report improvement in their symptoms.
Feeling disoriented, confused, having obsessive thoughts about your baby, feeling paranoid, or experiencing hallucinations are all signs to call your doctor immediately. There is a more severe condition known as postpartum psychosis that causes these symptoms.
You can reach the emergency services if you are thinking of harming your baby or are having suicidal thoughts.
Postpartum Depression: Symptoms, Treatments, and Finding Help
What is postpartum depression?
A form of depression that occurs following the birth of a baby is postpartum depression or perinatal depression. The condition affects 1 in 7 women after giving birth, making it a relatively common and serious medical condition.
The symptoms of postpartum depression include feeling empty, emotionless, and sad. The effects can last for a long time after birth, causing mood swings, exhaustion, and a general feeling of hopelessness.
There should be no room for complacency when it comes to postpartum depression. A person suffering from this disorder can usually overcome it with the help of various treatment programs. A woman experiencing postpartum depression has the right to know that she is not alone and that she can recover.
The effects of postpartum depression can affect people of all genders, sexual identities, and parents and partners regardless of how they are born, surrogate parents, or adoptive parents. In the world of parenting, there is no one ‘normal’ way to do it.
Your feelings of postpartum or perinatal depression are always valid and should never be blamed on you.
Postpartum depression symptoms: how does it manifest?
In the days following birth, many people experience symptoms of depression, such as sadness, loneliness, and fatigue. But postpartum depression lasts much longer than that, lasting up to six weeks after childbirth. As a result, you can experience severe symptoms that make it difficult to function normally.
There are numerous symptoms associated with postpartum depression, and symptoms may vary from day to day as well. A woman’s postpartum symptoms can begin as early as 1 to 3 weeks after giving birth, but are most commonly felt within those first few weeks.
You may feel disconnected from your baby if you suffer from postpartum depression. There may be times when you feel as if you don’t love your baby. You are not responsible for these feelings.
Postpartum depression may also be characterized by:
Crying a lot or feeling sad
Having an overwhelming feeling
Thoughts of hurting the baby or yourself keep coming into your head
Losing interest in the baby
Feeling less motivated and with no energy
Having the feeling of worthlessness, guilt, or like you are a failed parent
Getting too much or too little sleep
Your relationship with food changes
Anxiety keeps coming in
Experience stomach problems, chronic headaches, aches, or pains.
Although postpartum depression does not necessarily mean you are a failing parent, it is not your fault either. It is imperative that you contact a healthcare professional and seek treatment as soon as possible if you notice symptoms.
The treatment of postpartum depression
In the event that you have symptoms of postpartum depression, you need to contact a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
There are many types of treatment available for postpartum depression, including medication, counseling, and support groups. Typically, the most effective treatment is a combination of medication and therapy.
The treatment of postpartum depression with medications
Depression medications are the most common type of medication prescribed to women experiencing postpartum depression. Taking these drugs will help alleviate many of the symptoms of depression, but it will take them six to eight weeks to become effective.
If you are trying several medications before finding one with manageable side effects, you may need to try a few more.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
Antidepressant medications such as these are commonly prescribed. A number of SSRI antidepressants have been developed over the years for treating depression, including paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), and sertraline (Zoloft).
Several neurotransmitters in the brain affect mood when these drugs are taken. Treatment with these drugs may be effective for treating depression that does not respond to SSRIs. An atypical antidepressant can be anything from bupropion to trazodone to nefazodone (for example, Wellbutrin, Desyrel, and Serzone).
Tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors
There are two less commonly used antidepressants from these two older classes.
Through an IV, this is administered over the course of 60 hours by a healthcare professional. The medication brexanolone is commonly prescribed to patients not responding to other treatments.
It is possible for all antidepressants to cause side effects, which may vary in severity. It is common for antidepressants to cause side effects like agitation and anxiety, digestive problems, and headaches, among others.
The healthcare system provides medications and treatment for breastfeeding women. It is important that you choose one that is safe for you to use while you are breastfeeding, so talk to your doctor about it.
Therapy of the hormone
Immediately following the delivery of a baby, estrogen and progesterone levels are dramatically reduced.
This sudden change in hormones may contribute to the development of postpartum depression, according to researchers. Hormone therapy may be helpful in managing postpartum depression because of these reasons.
Hormone therapy with estrogen may have the following side effects:
Changes in weight
Vomiting and nausea
Cramps in the abdomen
Headaches and migraines
Discharges in the vaginal area
Loss of hair
Increase in blood pressure
Fibroid growth in the uterus
Yeast infections in the vaginal area
Postpartum depression symptoms can be significantly improved with a type of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The effectiveness of CBT when combined with medication has been shown to be greater than medication alone in reducing postpartum depression symptoms.
The purpose of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is to teach you techniques and strategies that can help you change your thinking patterns, recognize distortions in thinking, cope with difficult situations, and build up your self-confidence.
Remedies that are natural
There is no cure for postpartum depression. It is a serious and debilitating condition that should be treated by a healthcare professional.
The bottom line is, at-home practices like eating well, exercising regularly, practising meditation or yoga, and spending time in nature can help you feel better, even in addition to traditional treatments like medication.
A self-care routine
Isolation and exhaustion can accompany postpartum depression. Therefore, it is helpful to take time for yourself and ask for support from family and friends when you need it. Additionally, you may benefit from joining a support group.
Risk factors and causes of postpartum depression
A number of factors may contribute to postpartum depression, although the exact cause is unknown. It is possible to develop postpartum depression after giving birth due to both physical and emotional changes.
The levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body during pregnancy are higher than normal. It doesn’t take long after giving birth for hormone levels to return to their former status.
It is possible that this abrupt change contributed to the development of postpartum depression.
There are several other physical factors that may contribute to postpartum depression, such as:
A low level of thyroid hormones
Deprivation of sleep
Medical conditions that are underlying
Alcohol and drug misuse
It is believed according to research that experiencing stressful experiences during pregnancy has a significant impact on the development of postpartum depression.
There are a number of emotional stressors, including:
Divorce recently concluded
Loss of a loved one
The stress of financial issues
Postpartum depression diagnosis
If you have been experiencing depression symptoms for more than two weeks within the first year of having a baby, you should consult a healthcare professional for a postpartum depression screening.
Symptoms and medical history will be assessed by a medical professional to determine the diagnosis.
The following are typical things they’ll look out for and ask about:
Symptoms of depression
Patterns of sleep disturbances
Energy levels seem to be decreasing
A feeling of irritability
It is also important to identify other factors that might contribute to depression and associated conditions as part of the diagnosis.
There are several types of these:
Life events that have been stressful recently
Depression in the past
Stressors from outside
The history of your medications
It is also possible that your doctor will order a blood test to determine whether a disorder like thyroid disease or nutrient deficiencies are contributing to your depression.
Prevention of postpartum depression
There are a number of factors that can lead to postpartum depression, and it may not entirely be preventable. In the event that you experience postpartum depression, you might be able to manage the condition more effectively and get treatment faster if necessary.
There is some evidence that certain interventions can reduce your risk of getting severe postpartum depression, particularly treatment with certain antidepressants and nutrients during and right after pregnancy.
Those at an increased risk of developing postpartum depression may reduce their risk by participating in interpersonal therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy during and after pregnancy.
There are also several things you can do to reduce your chances of developing postpartum depression, including:
Before your baby is born, establish a support system of friends and family
Educational classes during pregnancy and afterward
You can take a break while your children are taken care of if you have a childcare arrangement in place
Getting enough exercise and fresh air every day as well as maintaining a balanced diet
Sleeping enough and getting enough rest in general
Avoiding or reducing alcohol consumption
Postpartum depression that is severe – what is it?
In the absence of treatment, postpartum depression can progressively worsen. The most dangerous side effects of this disorder include suicide attempts, self-harm, or harming others. There is a need for medical intervention if these thoughts begin to occur.
Despite the potentially life-threatening nature of severe postpartum depression, there are effective treatment options available.
Postpartum psychosis – what is it?
Among all the forms of postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis is the most severe. The number of women who suffer from postpartum psychosis after childbirth is low, with 1 to 2 cases reported per 1,000 women. Cases have been reported to occur as late as six months after delivery. Typically, it develops suddenly after the birth of a baby, but it can occur earlier.
Insomnia, restlessness, and irritability are the earliest symptoms of postpartum psychosis. The presence of hallucinations – seeing, hearing, or smelling things that aren’t there – and delusions is also common.
Having postpartum psychosis is a psychiatric emergency, and you may harm yourself or your baby intentionally or accidentally.
Research suggests that 20-25 percent of first-time mothers suffer from postpartum anxiety, which is even more common than postpartum depression. The symptoms of postpartum anxiety are often accompanied by the symptoms of postpartum depression. The condition can develop at any time after giving birth within the first year.
There are several common symptoms of postpartum anxiety, including episodes of hyperventilation and panic attacks.
Anxiety postpartum can also manifest itself in the following ways:
Too much or constant worry
Lack of proper concentration
Tension and irritability
The feelings of dread
Tingling in the legs or arms
Pain in the chest
Inability to sleep (Insomnia)
Two to nine percent of women experience postpartum OCD after giving birth, which is lower than postpartum depression and anxiety. In most cases, it develops within a week of delivery.
Obsessions can be about anything, but they often revolve around the safety of the baby. Those who suffer from postpartum OCD may engage in ritualistic behaviors in response to those thoughts.
Some of these may be:
Cleaning and repetitive organizing, and obsessing over germs
Constantly/repeatedly looking out for your baby during the night
Experiencing mental compulsions, like constantly praying for your baby’s safety
OCD caused by pregnancy can be effectively treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Postpartum depression in men
There is a type of postpartum depression called paternal postnatal depression that can affect birth partners as well.
Men are less likely than women to report symptoms of depression, but between 8-10 percent of fathers report depression in the first year after childbirth. A first-time father usually experiences a higher level of anxiety in the first few weeks after his child is born.
In addition to depression and relationship problems, there are many other possible risk factors that might contribute to the development of postpartum depression in men.
It is possible to treat depression with antidepressant medications alone or in conjunction with therapy.
The most reliable places to find postpartum depression support
In order to address your physical symptoms and discuss treatment with a healthcare professional, you should contact a healthcare professional as soon as possible. This is because many people are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression.
Additionally, they can refer you to a therapist or other local resources to help you cope with your new diagnosis during the postpartum period.
You can find appropriate resources through these organizations:
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): NAMI is the nation’s largest mental illness organization dedicated to supporting and improving the lives of people with mental illness.
The Postpartum Support International website, which provides education, online support, and local resources. Call 800-944-4773 to reach them.
Postpartum Depression Support Groups in the U.S. and Canada: Listed by state, this is a comprehensive list of support groups across the country.
Postpartum Progress: Provides support and information for first-time parents and pregnant women suffering from anxiety and depression postpartum.