All you need to know on post-partum depression

What is it? 

Post-partum depression (also called “baby blues”) 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 women 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).

Common symptoms:

  • Sadness without a particular reason 
  • Exhaustion 
  • Insomnia
  • Oversleeping
  • Overeating or lack of interest in food
  • Mood swings
  • 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 post-partum depression?

Post-partum 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
  • Inadequate diet
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Drug and alcohol misuse 

Emotional factors: 

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.

  • Recent divorce or death of a loved one
  • Lack of support
  • Financial problems
  • High levels of stress

5 efficient ways to cope with post-partum depression:

1. Build a support network

People around us might not know how we feel or why we behave in a certain way. Talking to them about our feelings will help us build a support network. We have people to count on but they need to know we need our 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 that 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.

3. Rest

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 of 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 them 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 it hurts you. 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 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.

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