Postpartum depression (PPD) is a rather common health condition, afflicting about one in ten new mothers. Yet, when it hits, the guilt and trauma it inflicts on the mother can be as devastating as the condition itself. Women are predisposed to be nurturing, and the anger, depression, and feeling of hopelessness that often come with PPD are contrary to everything their caring instincts tell them to be.
If you think you may be suffering from PPD, or fear you may develop PPD, understand, first of all, that it is not your fault. Then go get help. There’s a wealth of available support for new mothers with any form of baby blues. These include medications, group help, therapy, and counseling. Some therapists in Nashville offer services especially for women going through difficult moments in their lives, including those in need of professional support after giving birth.
Understanding Postpartum Depression and Its Causes
Postpartum depression encompasses a wide range of physical and emotional changes that a new mother goes through, i.e. changes associated with the chemical, psychological, and social effects brought about by childbirth.
When you’re pregnant, your body produces ten times more estrogen and progesterone—hormones that are largely responsible for regulating your moods. Three days after giving birth, the production of these hormones, along with others produced by your thyroid gland, goes down to normal. This rapid drop may lead to feelings of sluggishness, exhaustion, and depression.
In addition, there are social, psychological, and emotional factors that may put you at higher risk of acquiring PPD, such as:
- A history of depression
- A weak support system
- Feeling unprepared for motherhood
- Relationship issues with your spouse
- Other stressful situations like job loss and financial problems
It’s important to remember that these risk factors do not mean you will get PPD, nor does their absence guarantee that you will not acquire the condition.
Be Vigilant and Know When to Get Help
You may do certain things to help avoid PPD, including exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep and rest, but these methods are not foolproof. With this in mind, it helps to be aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions during and after pregnancy. Watch out for symptoms of PPD, including:
- Appetite loss
- Difficulty in sleeping or sleeping too much
- Difficulty in bonding with your baby
- Low energy level or overwhelming fatigue
- Extreme anxiety or panic attacks
- Feeling of inadequacy, guilt, or shame
- Suicidal thoughts
- Thoughts of harming your baby
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, call your doctor or seek a support group as soon as possible.
Learn About Integrative Treatments for PPD
Your doctor might prescribe medications and counseling to treat PPD, but there are alternative or complementary treatments that you can consider. Consult your doctor or a therapist about these treatments, including:
- Yoga: Several studies have shown that a yoga-based exercise program can alleviate PPD symptoms.
- Massage: Massage has proven to have a positive outcome on women with PPD symptoms.
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy: EMDR uses Bi-Lateral Stimulations (BLS), such as eye movements, bilateral sounds, and tactile pulsers to allow you to process your memories more effectively.
There’s no shame in admitting that you need help for postpartum depression. For every woman, the road to motherhood is no doubt filled with joy, but it is also fraught with challenges that you can overcome with the right support.
Perinatal Depression: An Evidence-Based Review of Integrative Treatment, PsychiatricTimes.com
Postpartum Depression: It’s Not Your Fault, AllMomDoes.com