Postpartum depression is a type of depression that parents can have after having a baby. It can be present at both genders but there is higher chances for mothers to develop it within 6 months after delivery. Many “new” moms feel exhausted, sad and worried during the first couple of weeks after giving birth to the baby. This is absolutely normal as the transition to the new rhythm can disrupt the normal balance women used to have. When these symptoms last longer and they interfere with the daily routine creating other difficulties, such as taking care of the baby, maintaining close relationships, etc., we might talk about post-partum depression (PPD). In this article you will discover all you need to know on pastpartum depression.
Common symptoms of postpartum depression:
Sadness without a particular reason
Overeating or lack of interest in food
Feeling out of control
Disconnection from the baby and feeling guilty about it
Everything is too much
Feelings of guiltiness and judgement from the others
The desire to escape from everyone
Withdrawal from family and social activities
Intrusive thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
What causes postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression can be triggered by a combination of physical and emotional factors.
Physical factors: Our mental wellbeing is often impacted by our hormones. Similarly, after delivery, our hormones’ levels change and fluctuate a little bit. During pregnancy, the levels of estrogen and progesterone are higher than normal. Within a few hours from delivery, their levels drop back to normal and this sudden decrease may influence mothers emotionally.
Other physical factors:
Low thyroid hormone level
Drug and alcohol misuse
Statistics show that women that have already suffered from a mood disorder in the past or who have someone in the family with mood disorders are more likely to develop post-partum depression.
Other emotional factors:
Recent divorce or death of a loved one
Lack of support
High levels of stress
5 efficient ways to cope with postpartum depression:
1. Build a support network
People around you might not know how you feel or why you behave in a certain way. Talking to them about your feelings will help you build a support network. You have people to count on but they need to know you need their help. Speaking about your feelings to someone you trust will help you better cope with post-partum depression and will make your symptoms less intense.
2. Follow a healthy diet, rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Research has found that people who consume omega-3 fatty acids report less depressive symptoms whilst participants who have a diet rich in sugar and fat experience more intense depressive symptoms. Trying to adopt a healthier diet that is rich in fibre, antioxidants, omega-3 and proteins will have an impact not only on your body but also on your mental health.
Sleep when the baby sleeps. This is what specialists suggest to new moms. We know it is difficult to adjust to the new rhythm and feeding the baby does not allow you much sleep. But finding little moments when you can nap will still help. Why not trying to have a short nap with the baby next time?
4. Slowly reintroduce physical activity
Your body needs plenty of rest in order to heal and recover after delivery. However, if you had a normal delivery without complications, you should be able to exercise a couple days after delivery. You can start with a 10-15 minutes walk a day with the baby and then increase gradually the time as you become more confident. You can vary your physical activity so you can enjoy it more.
Exercising has been proved to prevent depression and anxiety and to reduce depressive symptoms in mothers suffering from post-partum depression. So all the benefits on your side!
5. Talk to a mental health provider
You don’t have to keep things for yourself. If you feel you cannot talk to someone in your family and you prefer someone from outside, you can contact your GP and get a referral to a mental health provider. It is important to address the issue accordingly and to take your time to go through your feelings and see what comes at the surface. If you ignore your feelings, you will continue to live in the shadow of your own emotions. You will remain your own prisoner.
Post-partum depression exists and it affects around 1 in 10 women. The sudden change of hormones’ level can explain it biologically, nevertheless there are other factors, such as genetics that can influence its occurance. Receiving the right support during this difficult times is what will help you recover better, so don’t stop yourself from talking about your feelings. If you want to try out some support groups, read this. Alternatively, I am available for 1:1 consultations.
If you want to read more about postpartum depression, check this article.