Postpartum Depression: What You Need to Know

Postpartum depression, sometimes known as the baby blues, is believed to affect between 10 to 20% of women in the United States.  If you or someone you know may have postpartum depression, there are things that can be done to help.  In this article, I'll go over what postpartum depression is, signs that indicate you may have it, and how to get help.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that specifically affects mothers that have recently gone through childbirth.  This condition is caused by hormonal changes that new mother's experience.  A woman with postpartum depression my feel overwhelmed, worthless, anxious and restless.

Signs that a woman may be going through postpartum depression include:

  1. A feeling of extreme anxiety
  2. Frequent crying
  3. Insomnia
  4. Unhappy feeling
  5. Feelings of guilt
  6. No bonding or lack of interest in her baby

Many new mothers may have these signs in the first few weeks following birth.  When these signs continue long after the first month, a doctor may diagnose that woman as having postpartum depression.  This is a serious issue, depending on the severity of the depression, that should not be taken lightly.  After being diagnosed, therapy may be advised.

What Can Be Done To Help

Therapy

If you have been diagnosed with clinical postpartum depression, then you will most likely be given options for counseling.  There are trained practitioners who can help you through this very difficult time.  Psychotherapy has been used successfully to treat postpartum depression. This will involving scheduling appointments to meet with a mental health professional to discuss your feelings.  During these sessions, the therapist will help you work through ways to cope and deal with your feelings.

Medication

In some cases, your doctor may suggest antidepressants to help you cope with your depression.  Medications are usually only prescribed in severe cases of postpartum depression when other natural coping mechanisms have failed.  If you are breastfeeding, make sure to discuss this with your doctor, since most medications will also pass through the breast milk to nursing infants.

Exercise

Staying active and fit is one of the best things you can do to beat postpartum depression.  A feeling of accomplishment and well being might not happen right away, but stick with it and you should soon start feeling better.  Exercise releases a natural antidepressant called endorphins into your system when you get moving.

Nutrition

Eating a well balanced and nutritious diet can help lessen and sometimes end your time of postpartum depression.  There are even foods that can help to fight depression. Try eating some walnuts, almonds, avocados, chia seeds, and sweet potatoes to improve your mood.

Get Out and Socialize

One of the worst things that you can do if you have postpartum depression is to withdraw from friends.  Do not isolate yourself from people who care about you and want to help.  Get out and visit, allow visitors to come and see you and go to events.  Even a trip to the park to talk to other moms can do wonders for your depression.

Set a New Goal

Think of a new goal that you would like to accomplish and take steps everyday to work towards that goal.  Have you been wanting to take an online class or lose 10 pounds?  Now is a great time to get focused and go after that goal.  Try focusing on something other than how you feel.  Make sure that your goal is achievable. You may want to start with a short-term goal. For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds, start with a goal of 5 pounds.  That way you will experience achievement.  You can always set another goal and work towards it until you've reached the ultimate goal.

Start a Project

Now is a great time to start a new project.  I love building things, painting, and creating fiber arts. Think of a project that you would like to accomplish and get to it.  It could be a large project, like building a deck, or maybe a small project like crocheting a cool hat, or redecorating a room.  Think of some things that get you excited, and go for it and start working towards it today.

Get Some Sleep

People with postpartum depression often experience insomnia.  Schedule in at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day.  With a new baby, it may not be possible to get a full night's sleep in all at once.  Try to nap when your baby naps.  If you have other young ones at home, schedule in a quiet hour when the baby naps.  Even if you don't actually fall asleep, you can still get off your feet, close your eyes, and rest.  Schedule your rest times in.  Rest may eventually lead to sleep.

Final Thoughts

I've gone over what postpartum depression is, and discussed severity levels of this type of depression.  I've also covered some signs to be aware of that might identify that you have postpartum depression along with things that you can do to help fight it.  If you are feeling strong feelings of self harming yourself or your baby, then please call your medical provider immediately.  Professionals are experienced in how to help you through this hard phase that some women experience post childbirth.  When the going gets tough, remember, that this is only a phase of life that you are going through. It is not a final state of being. With the right help and by following some of these tips, you will soon be over your postpartum depression. Good luck!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kayla Watson is the website manager at OurStart.com. OurStart is a lifestyle blog that publishes content on pregnancy, parenting, marriage, and family life. When Kayla is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, exploring cute coffee shops, and feeding her unhealthy stationary addiction.