What is Postpartum Depression? 6 proven ways you can treat Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression
This picture depicts the feeling of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a prevalent and extremely important mental health issue. According to research by American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 15% of women suffer through Postpartum Depression. The episodes of Postpartum Depression may start within 4 weeks of childbirth and may last up to 6 months of childbirth.

It is a kind of mental illness that is affecting lives of many mothers and their newborns. A healthy mother means a healthy child. In this article we will discover the causes, symptoms, and different kinds of treatments for Postpartum Depression.

What is Postpartum Depression?

A woman goes through many physical, behavioral, and emotional changes during and after the pregnancy. These include a significant rise in the levels of hormones namely estrogen and progesterone. However, after the delivery, the level of these hormones declines abruptly and go to their prepregnancy stage. This sudden decrease in the level of hormones might cause baby blues or Postpartum Depression in 15% of the cases.

Postpartum Depression Causes

There are many factors that play their role in increasing the chances of a woman to suffer from Postpartum Depression. All these factors were measured during the pregnancy period. These factors include:

  • history of abnormal psychology
  • negative psychological effects during pregnancy
  • poor marital relationships
  • high stress levels during pregnancy
  • low social support
  • unwanted pregnancy
  • low self-esteem

All these factors contribute to the probability of Postpartum Depression in new mothers. Other than these reasons, mothers are bound to feel overwhelmed by the new responsibility of a little human being. They might judge themselves or feel uncertain about their capabilities as a mother. These doubts might lead to anxiety and depression in women after childbirth.

Pregnant women and people around them should create a stress-free environment for new mothers and provide them with social support. The society should try to minimize these Postpartum Depression causes to create a healthy society with healthy mothers and children.

What does Postpartum Depression feel like?

Postpartum Depression is a feeling that will cripple your body and spirit. It is very difficult to recognize or diagnose Postpartum Depression in early stages because many women suffer this ordeal in silence. Many women do not have access to a psychotherapist.

 Breastfeeding mothers do not seek counselling or medication because they are uncertain of the effects of anti-depressant medication on the baby. However, Postpartum Depression is not a prevalent case in most mothers. 75% of mothers suffer from a condition called the “Baby Blues” or “Postpartum Blues”.

Postpartum Blues

Postpartum Blues or Baby Blues is a condition that the majority of new mothers suffer from. This may last from 3 to 10 days after pregnancy. However, it is less intense than Postpartum Depression. If you have baby blues, you might feel irritated.

You will likely have mood swings. One minute you are crying and think you are not a good mother, and next minute you will feel proud of yourself for taking such good care of your baby. You will probably get overwhelmed by little things and lose your appetite.

If these symptoms do not go away within 2 weeks, then you are probably suffering from Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum Depression

Most women describe Postpartum Depression as a feeling that robs you of the joys of motherhood. It may, in some cases, cause the mothers to commit suicide or kill their babies. You will feel sad, hopeless, and empty. You might not feel love towards your baby or care for him and suffer from panic attacks.

It will become difficult for you to make even the smallest decisions and gives you insomnia. All the feelings of Postpartum Blues will intensify. Many women suffer from Postpartum Depression in silence and continue to feel scared. If this condition is left untreated for long, it might turn into a case of Postpartum Psychosis.

Postpartum Psychosis

This is an extreme case of Postpartum Depression. However, it is rare and only 0.004% of women suffer from it. This case may develop within first 3 months after delivery. The symptoms are:

  • Auditory and Visual Hallucinations (might hear or see things that are not there)
  • Delusions (talking about things that do not make any sense)
  • Severe Insomnia
  • Anger issues
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Reckless behavior towards yourself and the baby

This is a serious case, and the patient might need hospitalization and medical care. They might become a danger to themselves or someone else including the baby.

The bond of motherhood

Postpartum Depression Treatments

The treatment for Postpartum depression depends on the severity of each case. Do not think that you are alone. There are many ways you can treat your Depression. We will discuss some of these ways below.

Natural Remedies for Postpartum Depression

You can use these remedies if you do not have a severe case of Postpartum Depression. Many breastfeeding mothers fear anti-depressant medicine. You don’t need to worry. There are some natural remedies you can use to help you depression. However, these remedies are not a substitute for a psychotherapist.

  • Vitamins

A recent study suggests that the intake of Omega-3 fatty acids might help prevent PPD and reduce inflammation. Riboflavin or Vitamin B2 may uplift your mood. But the excess of anything is dangerous, so take these nutrients in a balanced proportion. Add healthy foods such as chia seed, flax seed, oily fish such as salmon and sardine to your diet.

  • Herbal supplements

Consult an Herbal medicine doctor before taking any supplements. Vitex is an herb that will increase the level of progesterone in your body and balance your hormones. Motherwort and lemon balm can be used to get rid of mood swings and emotional imbalance. Skullcap, oats, and chamomile will relieve your stress and calm your nerves. 

Postpartum Depression Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques such as walking and stretching will help with Postpartum depression. You can write about your feelings in a diary or share them with people you trust. Interact with people and go outside. A dose of vitamin D in the morning with immensely help you.

Paint something. Grow a little garden if you have space. Plants and greenery will always have a positive effect on our mood no matter the issue. Find some good meditation techniques online and start following. Get enough sleep.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Postpartum Depression

There is research that prove that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Postpartum Depression is effective. A review study conducted by Laura E Sockol, cognitive behavior therapy will prevent and treat Postpartum depression and significantly reduce its symptoms.

Postpartum Depression Group Therapy

Find a support group nearby including people who are ready to listen and understand your issues. Sharing the pain will help lessen your suffering and will give you hope. You will realize that you are not alone and there are people who can understand you. Just make sure that there is a mental health specialist present in the group.

You will likely get safe advice from these groups and get out of isolation. Also, these support groups are great for people who can not pay for a psychologist.

Postpartum Depression Counselling

Visit a mental health practitioner if your symptoms persist for more than two weeks. Getting counselling for Postpartum depression from certified psychologist is the best way to deal with this issue. You will get professional advice and will learn ways to cope with this issue.

A professional will carefully examine you and correctly recognize the phase of Postpartum Depression. You will get a clear and personal guideline according to your condition.

Some mothers might be developing Postpartum Psychosis and might need to be hospitalized. Your mental health counsellor will take a timely action according to your condition. He may also recommend medicine if needed.

Postpartum Depression Medication

Consult your mental health practitioner before taking any medication for Postpartum Depression. Do not fear medicines if you are a breastfeeding mother. There are medicines available for PPD that will not affect the health of your child in any way. Some of the anti-depressants are:

  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban)

For a severe case of depression, you might need an IV. Brexanolone is a drug administered through IV. You may face side effects from these drugs such as nausea and weight gain. Ask your doctor if the medicine is safe during breastfeeding.

Postpartum Depression is a painful experience and will make you feel lost or hopeless. Don’t worry. You are not alone. Do not be embarrassed of yourself. Most importantly, Do Not Lose Hope. It can be treated and there will come a time when you will feel better.

Get well soon!
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