Postpartum Depression and 10 Ways to Deal with it
The birthing process leaves us with a variety of emotions. We may feel exhilarated, scared, anxious, or sad. However, if you are always sad for weeks on end, and find that it is getting in the way of your daily life, then this should raise an alarm that you may have postpartum depression.
We can get postpartum depression during pregnancy, a few weeks after giving birth, or even a whole year later after delivery.
Types of Postpartum Depression
There are three types of postpartum depression.
1. Baby blues
Baby blues are a short-term type of postpartum depression that is mild. When you have baby blues, you will experience symptoms 3 to 10 days after delivery. The good news is that within 2 to 3 weeks, the symptoms go away.
You will know that you have baby blues when you are anxious, cry a lot, have trouble sleeping, feel tired, have mood swings, and feel sad. Baby blues will make you feel like you cannot care for your baby, regardless of how ready you were.
2. Postpartum major depression
Postpartum major depression is a severe episode of depression. You will know you may be suffering from postpartum depression when you experience the following:
- Depressed mood
- Feeling of worthlessness
- Loss of energy
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Fluctuations in weight or appetite
You will also feel disinterested in things you would usually enjoy or even love to do, keep forgetting things, have a hard time concentrating, thinking, and making decisions.
When you have postpartum depression, you may find yourself wanting to isolate yourself from people. Also, the changes in your eating and sleeping will often result in you having problems with your health.
In some cases, you may find that you are continually thinking about harming yourself or your baby. When you feel this way and have such thoughts, as rare as it is for one to act out such feelings, it is a dangerous situation, and you should get medical help. Similarly, if you suspect someone is in such danger, do not hesitate to seek help.
3. Postpartum psychosis
Postpartum psychosis begins within one or two weeks after delivery. In addition to major depression, when you have postpartum depression, you will also have hallucinations. Hallucinations mean you will hear things or see things which in a real sense, are not there. You will also be delusional, meaning you will believe things that are not true.
Having a baby is lovely, and everyone around you expects you to be overjoyed, you may experience the opposite and be unable to bond with your baby.
The symptoms of postpartum psychosis fluctuate, and you will experience periods of feeling very good, followed by periods of profound sadness or rage, much like a person with bipolar. At times you may feel normal, but that should not fool you into thinking that you are now well.
What Causes the Postpartum Depression?
Several factors, when combined, can cause the disorder. These factors include stress, family history, personality, hormonal changes, inadequate sleep, poor diet, changes in thyroid levels, and difficult experiences in life. Sleep deprivation caused by insomnia is a significant contributor to postpartum depression.
10 Ways to Deal with Postpartum Depression
Physical activity is believed to play a big part in fighting postpartum depression. This means that you can ease the effects of postpartum depression by exercising. Exercise will also help you to improve your psychological well being, relieve stress, and make your abdominal muscles stronger.
Understandably, it may be hard for you to be able to fit in a workout. One easy but very effective way for you to get adequate exercise is to walk with your baby in a stroller. Alternatively, try doing some simple 10-minute workouts a few times a day. 20 to 30 minutes of activity per day is ideal for you. However, as little as 10 minutes is still very beneficial to your body.
For the period just after birth, make sure that you do not strain yourself. Start with gentle exercises and do these only if you had an uncomplicated vaginal birth. If you had a cesarean delivery or if you had a vaginal birth but with issues, talk to your health provider first before embarking on any exercise plan. Your health provider will guide you on how to go about getting some exercise or whether you should sit it out.
2. Healthy Diet
Our striving to eat healthily will not cure postpartum depression. A habit of eating nutritious foods can help us feel better. Eating nutritious foods also equips our bodies with the nutrients we require.
Make a habit of planning your meals. When fixing snacks, use wholesome foods. Carrots, cheese, apple slices, peanut butter, etc., make delicious and healthy snacks.
Be sure to also check out our piece on “How to Eat Healthy On a Budget” for more info on eating healthy.
3. Get out in the Sunshine
When we’re out in the sunshine and fresh air, our mood changes for the better. No matter how bad you think you look, or how messy your hair is, take a walk with the stroller for about 15 minutes daily. It will do you much good.
4. Create some me-time
After giving birth, you may find that you are often seated or lying down breastfeeding. You may also find that you are always overwhelmed by work, household chores, or your older children. Never hesitate to ask for help. Your mother-in-law, partner, or a trusted adult would be willing to take the baby for some time, thus affording you a break.
Schedule some time for yourself at least once a week. If you are not able to get someone to take the baby, then make sure you leave the house in between your nursing sessions. Take a walk, go to a movie, take a nap, or do whatever it is that you enjoy helping you unwind.
Take a look at “What is “Me Time” & Why Every Mom Needs It” for a list on how to fit “me time” into your busy schedule.
5. Try Getting Enough Sleep
By now, you certainly have heard several times, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Did you know this is based on science? The less we sleep, the stronger the symptoms of our depression, and vice versa, so make sure you get enough quality sleep.
Initially, after birth, babies most likely will not sleep all night, meaning minimal sleep for moms. If this is the case, retiring early for bed will be of much benefit to you. Also, you could pump some milk for the night and ask your partner to help you by feeding the baby for a night or two so that you can get your much-needed rest. You could also ask other family members or friends to help by looking after the baby while you nap.
Living with postpartum depression often means it will take us much longer to fall asleep. Also, when we sleep, we will sleep for shorter periods. As noted earlier, low-quality sleep will cause our symptoms to be far more severe.
6. Pamper Yourself
It is not easy with all the mom duties involved, not forgetting the depression you are experiencing, but make an effort to pamper yourself. Take baby steps in indulging yourself every now and then. Watch a movie or your favorite TV show, have a luxurious bath, get your nails done, your hair done, a foot massage, etc.
7. Fish Oils are Good for You
Journal of Affective Disorders cited low levels of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) as contributors to high rates of postpartum depression in women. DHA is found in Omega-3, which is mostly found in fish oils of especially salmon and herring. These are ideal, so consider eating them frequently. If you are a vegetarian, flaxseed is equally as good. It also has high DHA content. There are also various DHA or Omega-3 supplements you can get from your grocery store.
8. Pay Attention to how you Breastfeed
Studies have shown that breastfeeding reduces the risk of getting postpartum depression, thus the more and the longer we breastfeed, the better for you.
However, some women suffer from Dysmorphic Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER). D-MER causes us to experience symptoms of depression so that we feel sad, angry, or worked up. Either way, come up with the best breastfeeding plan that works best for you.
Having a newborn can be an amazing experience for a new mother. Check out “How Does a Newborn Change Your Life?” for a look at how your newborn will change the household.
9. Build a Support Network
Talking with others about our feelings can uplift our spirit. It is a proven fact that our levels of stress can be lowered by regularly interacting with other mothers who have previously had postpartum depression. Speaking with others also helps us deal with challenges in life. Social interaction is essential, so make an effort to talk regularly with other adults and moms for support.
As a new mother, your new role will often leave you feeling overwhelmed and lonely. Research has shown that when we feel lonely, it causes us to feel isolated. We also experience feelings of disconnection and not belonging.
Also, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, and weak immunity are connected to loneliness.
You can develop a support network by confiding in your partner, any other family member, or a close friend. If you feel that you are reluctant to share with people you know, or unwilling to connect, reach out to your healthcare provider or midwife, join a local support group for people with postpartum depression, or join an online forum.
When you hear from others who are going through what you are experiencing, it will be very reassuring. Such interactions will also help boost your esteem.
10. Psychotherapy and Medication
If you have tried everything on the next list and it is not working. Your doctor may suggest psychotherapy or medication.
- Making me-time for yourself
- Pampering yourself
- Eating healthy
- Being outdoors
- Enjoying the sunshine
- Interacting with other people
Psychotherapy is also referred to as mental health counseling or talk therapy. It is essential because no antidepressants can make us change our thought patterns and outlook.
Psychotherapy can help us improve our whole perspective of life by teaching us:
- How to talk about what is bothering us
- How we are feeling
- How to set for ourselves goals that are attainable
- How to react to life situations in a positive way
Antidepressants are medication our doctor will suggest we take if our depression is severe. Whichever medication your doctor prescribes, you need not worry because he will always also consider the fact that you are breastfeeding.
Some drugs are very effective in treating postpartum depression. For example, researchers found Celexa to be a very effective antidepressant in treating postpartum depression. Cell connections in our brain get damaged when we are stressed during pregnancy, and these drugs can restore these cells.
According to other research, if we are reluctant or even unable to do talk-therapy sessions, but we prefer chatting with people on internet forums, internet-based cognitive behavior therapy could help minimize our symptoms of postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can be treated. Remember, it is not your fault that you are experiencing postpartum depression. It is merely a medical condition that needs medical attention. Many women see an improvement within six months, so be positive.
If you feel any of these symptoms for a prolonged period, i.e., for weeks, seek medical attention immediately, even if you are unsure as to whether or not you are depressed. You may be having prolonged baby blues, but it is best to confirm because the sooner you get help, the better for you and your baby.
Let us know in the comments below how we can help with your postpartum depression. What topics do you want us to talk about next? Check out more related articles from other strong mothers like “6 Money Saving Challenges To Improve Your Finances” or “Savings Plans for Single Moms“. Thank you for reading with us!