So you’ve given birth to your baby. It’s been weeks or probably months, and there is this nagging feeling of sadness, anger, hopelessness, and indifference to yourself, your baby, and the people around you. Many experienced mothers will tell you that you might be experiencing “baby blues” following the birth of your child. But, it is important that you understand that “baby blues” often go away and you’ll still enjoy your baby, while on the other hand, postpartum depression is a serious condition where you cease caring for your child for many months.
Do you feel sad and hopeless, angry, have trouble sleeping and concentrating, and cease to find anything enjoyable? Do you also feel fatigue, severe mood swings, irritability or anger? Do you feel shame, guilt or inadequacy and have lost interest in sex. You also difficulty in enjoying your baby and developing that bond with him/her becomes difficult. Sometimes you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. You would even want to withdraw from friends. If any of these seem familiar to you, then you might be suffering from postpartum depression or PPD. Postpartum depression happens months after normal childbirth, miscarriage, or stillbirth. The chances of developing PPD increase when you have a history of depression, bipolar disorder, or have poor support from your significant other. Postpartum depression is believed to be caused by the fluctuating hormone levels in the body after pregnancy.
If left untreated, postpartum depression can lead to a more serious condition called postpartum psychosis. In postpartum depression, you experience the feelings, while in postpartum psychosis, you tend to act on these feelings and may hear or see things that aren’t there which can lead you to harming yourself and your baby.
What can you do if you think you are experiencing postpartum depression? The first thing that is advisable for you to do is to consult your obstetrician or midwife as soon as possible, so she can begin advising you on therapy. He would refer you to a psychiatrist for appropriate therapy. Therapy might include psychotherapy and taking medications, as well as inclusion of family support, and attendance of support groups.
Other things you can do while undergoing therapy are:
- Having a healthy diet
- Studies suggest that having a balanced diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B complex, protein, and taking in liberal amounts of water can aid in your speedy recovery. Also, as many women tend to lose weight when experiencing postpartum depression, it is best that you maintain a healthy diet for your medications to work well.
Getting enough sleep
- Sleep is very important especially in the treatment of postpartum depression. Lack of sleep can induce episodes of psychosis and alter the effect of drugs. The science behind this is that, enough sleep aids in the production of serotonin in your brain, which improves mood, appetite, and sexual performance.
Getting enough exercise
- Exercise is proven to lighten mood as any form of activity can induce the production of norepinephrine and serotonin. Light to moderate exercise three times a week such as walking, jogging, or running can contribute many benefits to your therapy. In addition, studies show that people who exercise tend to be happier and have a better functional memory.
Reduce the stress in your life
- Stress makes PPD worse. Stress is proven to have many ill-effects in the body, not only physically but also mentally. If you are experiencing constant stress in your life, try to reflect on what causes it and what you can do to minimise or totally eliminate this stressor. Having an open dialogue with the person causing stress or simply rearranging your priorities or schedule can do wonders in reducing the level of stress you are currently experiencing.
It is important that you follow your therapeutic regimen to win the battle against postpartum depression. Coincidentally, postpartum depression strikes 15% of the general childbearing population, making it a well-understood and treatable condition. You are not alone in your fight to get better. Consult your doctor now for solid advice to treat postpartum depression.