Often these symptoms appear gradually, without women even realizing that they have developed postnatal depression. However, if signs last for more than two weeks, it is best to consult a doctor. Once the postpartum depression symptoms have been recognized and confirmed by a professional, it’s time to start implementing treatment, which usually consists of a combination of psychological therapy and medications.
Keep in mind that postnatal depression is one of the most common conditions, and affects 1 in 8 new mothers. Furthermore, it’s not just limited to women – research shows that the same number of new fathers experience depressed feelings after having a baby. Another common condition that can be linked with giving birth is postpartum anxiety disorder.
Is It “Baby Blues” or Postpartum Depression?
Many women experience a decreased mood after giving birth, but this does not necessarily mean postpartum depression. Crying, mood swings, loss of appetite, difficulties sleeping, and feeling overwhelmed and sad are common indications of so-called “baby blues”.
These symptoms usually affect new parents and subside after a couple of days. On the other hand, signs of postpartum depression or anxiety can appear at different times after childbirth – it could be a month, a few weeks, or even a year later. Symptoms of this affliction last longer, are much more severe, and require help from a professional.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
At this point in time, scientists haven’t been able to pinpoint why do you get postpartum depression after pregnancy. However, we are aware of numerous factors that can highly increase the chances of that condition. They include:
- hormonal fluctuations, especially estrogen and progesterone
- having a personal history of mental health problems such as depression or bipolar disorder
- having a family history of mental health problems
- feeling overwhelmed with being a mother
- complications during pregnancy or delivery
- breastfeeding difficulties
- having an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy
- not finding any free time
- unrealistic drive to be a perfect parent
- stressful events
- lack of sleep
- negative self-image
- birth trauma
Postpartum Depression Symptoms & Causes
Giving birth to a child can be a truly wonderful event that will enrich your life and change it for the better. But it does not come without many challenges, both physical and mental.
Some new mothers experience feelings of sadness, emptiness, and they have difficulties bonding with their kids. It’s quite normal if such a state lasts a few days after birth, but prolonged low mood can also indicate postnatal depression. Let’s learn more about what causes postpartum depression, and what are its most common symptoms.
Most Common Postpartum Depression Symptoms
It’s important to know that signs of postpartum depression are quite similar to other forms of depression. The most common symptoms may include:
- prolonged feeling of sadness
- lack of energy and motivation
- lack of appetite
- trouble sleeping
- frequent crying
- feeling like a bad mother
- lack of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
- trouble making decisions
- withdrawing from other people
- feelings of guilt, helplessness, or worthlessness
- not having any interest in the baby
- trouble bonding with the baby
- thoughts of hurting the baby or yourself
- strained relationship with the partner
- lack of support from friends and family
- having a child at a young age
The presence of these circumstances may indicate a greater risk of experiencing the symptoms of postpartum depression. Therefore, it is vital to closely monitor your mood during and after pregnancy and inform your doctor about any changes.
It’s important to note that persistent feelings of worries, especially irrational ones, can be a sign of PPA, not PPD. Early detection helps you react quickly and cope better with depression and postpartum anxiety.
Can You Prevent Postnatal Depression?
Despite our knowledge about various factors that contribute to postnatal depression, we still haven’t found definite ways to prevent this condition. However, each mother-to-be can take some helpful steps that will lower that risk.
Of course, it is essential to lead a healthy lifestyle, have a regular sleep schedule, eat and exercise regularly. It’s best to avoid any stressful situations during the pregnancy and shortly after the birth, so any life-changing decisions – such as buying a house, or moving to a new city – should be planned for different times.
It’s also beneficial to have a support system in place and the ability to confide in a partner, family, or friends. The chance to talk openly to loved ones about anything can considerably help lessen the feeling of isolation and provide much-needed comfort. Better yet, prior to anything else, prepare your support system on the critical things in planning a family here.
Natural Methods of Treating PPD and PPA
1. Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda
Many women seek doctor’s help when it comes to both PPD and PPA but find that traditional medical treatments are not that effective in their cases. That’s why some new mothers turn to Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.
What benefits can those methods offer?
It’s well known that Chinese medicine is an abundant source of various herbal formulas that can treat or at least alleviate the effects of many conditions. It is no different in the case of PPD and PPA. Traditional Chinese medicine has been used to help with those conditions for thousands of years. Testimonies of many women, alongside recent medical proof, confirm that Chinese herbal medicine can significantly reduce PPD and PPA symptoms.
Most of the formulas, such as Sheng-Hua-Tang or Si-Wu-Tang, help to improve blood flow, increase its supply and assist in resolving blood stasis. Another key help can be found in acupuncture, which utilizes thin needles that are inserted into the body and can act as pain relief.
What else can you do to combat postpartum anxiety and depression?
2. Focus on a Healthy Diet
Food is the fuel for our body and brain, so choose products that help you combat PPA and PPD. Reach for foods rich in Omega-3 acid, which levels are often low in mothers during the pregnancy and breastfeeding period, as they are passed on to babies.
Omega-3s can assist in reducing neuroinflammation and, as a result, decreasing depression. You’ll find them in fish oil, wild salmon, walnuts, flaxseed oil, spinach, chia seeds, and soybeans. Other fundamental ingredients include protein found in eggs, yogurt and chicken, and magnesium to help reduce signs of anxiety.
3. Add Beneficial Supplements
Of course, supplementation is also a great way to replenish the missing ingredients in your organism. Which substances should be your main focus? Vitamin B & D, Zinc, Iron, Selenium, and Turmeric.
4. Drink Herbs
Besides a healthy diet, you can also turn to various herbs, which can boost your mood and moderate hormonal swings. The best types that can help with postpartum anxiety and depression include Chamomile, St. John’s wort, Ginseng, Motherwort, Hops, Skullcap, Lemon balm leaves, Dandelion and Nettle. You can consume them in tea form or as a supplement.
5. Try Vaginal Steaming
This natural healing method can help you both physically and mentally. Vaginal steaming assists in removing lochia, the vaginal discharge, which contains blood, mucus, and uterine tissue. It helps reduce the chance of infection, minimizing postpartum contractions and skin swelling.
Vaginal steaming can also aid the uterus and neighboring organs in returning to previous sizes and positions, which helps to prevent incontinence, prolapse, and hemorrhoids. An increased healing pace will reduce the overall discomfort and help you feel better in your own skin after the life-changing experience of birth.
What’s essential, steam can stimulate the uterine walls and cervix, causing the release of Oxytocin, a hormone that plays a crucial part in the period after childbirth and helps the mother bond with the baby.
6, Ask for Help
Even though your first instinct may be to lock yourself up and deal with your struggles alone, you should fight with that urge. Mothers who experience postpartum anxiety or depression often want to isolate themselves from the loved ones, but this is the time when you should ask for help and allow your community to carry some of your burdens.
Your family and friends will want to be there for you, and you should let them help. Of course, in times of pandemic, it may be challenging, but you should strive to maintain your social connections as best as you can – fire up Zoom, call your best friend or join an online community that deals with similar issues as you.