Giving birth and embracing motherhood is considered the most rewarding experience for mothers. However, it can also be the most challenging phase for some new moms, who may exhibit signs of frustration, restlessness, and emotional detachment toward their little one. These signs often point to postpartum depression (PPD), a condition that when left unaddressed can impact both parents and the baby significantly.
While it is not uncommon for new moms to experience mood swings after childbirth, post pregnancy depression is considered more severe and requires special care. But the good news is that this condition is curable, and with the right treatment, you will be back to your old self again!
Read on to understand what causes this condition, postpartum depression symptoms, and tips to overcome PPD to help you enjoy your new mom life.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression, also referred to as PPD, is an affective disorder characterised by emotions such as sadness, exhaustion, worry, fear, and disinterest. Some may confuse the term ‘post pregnancy depression’ with conditions like baby blues and perinatal depression. However, postpartum depression exhibits distinct characteristics, setting it apart from both.
Baby blues is an acute form of depression primarily triggered by hormonal changes. It is marked by mild symptoms like tiredness, frustration, or feeling overwhelmed, typically emerging within the first four days after delivery. These symptoms usually peak within the week and subside within two weeks of childbirth.
Postpartum depression is typically diagnosed when the symptoms persist beyond the initial two weeks after childbirth, causing the mother to feel emotionally detached from her baby. It can also occur in those already experiencing perinatal depression, which is characterised by recurrent episodes of depressive symptoms, persisting through pregnancy.
Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression
The symptoms of postpartum depression include feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety / Image credit: Freepik
We’ve outlined some prevalent postpartum depression symptoms for you If you find yourself experiencing five or more of these signs, it’s crucial to consider the possibility of postpartum depression.
Changes In Your Feelings
- Feeling shame or guilt constantly
- Feeling scared or overwhelmed easily
- Experiencing major mood swings
- Having depressive thoughts throughout the day
Changes In Your Body
- Feeling fatigued or exhausted constantly
- Overeating or starving
- Feeling uninterested in activities you previously enjoyed
- Dealing with insomnia or oversleeping
Changes In Your Thoughts
- Feeling emotionally detached from your baby
- Feeling that you are incapable of taking care of your baby
- Inability to bond with your baby
- Having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby
Causes Of Postpartum Depression
The onset of post delivery depression is influenced by various interconnected factors, often unrelated to parental behaviour. While research is still needed to understand the root cause, here are some of the known factors that may contribute to postpartum depression.
While hormonal changes are typical during pregnancy, there is a notable decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels immediately after childbirth.
These hormones play a pivotal role in regulating emotions, and a sudden alteration in their production can lead to a rapid shift in the mother’s mood, often causing her to feel overwhelmed or emotionally unbalanced.
New mothers often grapple with sleep deprivation, which can lead to physical discomfort and mental disarray. Additionally, they may also worry about their baby’s safety and well-being, which can add to their stress.
These feelings coupled with physical changes, may lead to exhaustion, lack of concentration, and depression. However, there are many effective ways to cope with postpartum exhaustion, and trying proven postpartum self care tips can significantly enhance your overall health during this challenging time.
Struggling With Self-Image
Pregnancy and childbirth bring about several changes in a woman’s body. Moreover, common postpartum body struggles like stretch marks and weight gain can affect a mother’s self-image, diminishing her confidence. This ongoing battle with self-identity often takes an emotional toll and can potentially lead to depression.
History Of Mood Disorders And Anxiety
Research suggests that mothers with a history of anxiety or mood disorders are at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression compared to those without such history. Furthermore, the same studies have identified a connection between cases where there’s a family history of postpartum depression and its recent occurrence in a parent.
Your diet significantly impacts your physical and mental well-being after pregnancy. Inadequate nourishment can lead to exhaustion, which can also trigger postpartum depression.
Therefore, it’s essential to focus on your post pregnancy diet. If necessary, consult an expert to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients to replenish your body effectively.
Postpartum Depression Treatment
The treatment for post pregnancy depression aligns with the approaches used for major depressive disorders, all while considering the well-being of your breastfeeding baby. Standard therapies for postpartum depression include:
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy focuses on addressing interpersonal factors that contribute to existing depressive symptoms. As a part of family therapy, it equips your family, peers, and caregivers with tools to support you through postpartum depression.
You’re encouraged to engage with family members and bond with your baby to foster improved family dynamics and enhance your overall well-being.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) helps you understand your current thought process, aiming to transform associated negative behaviours.
For instance, it addresses parental self-doubt, feelings of helplessness, and irritability. Moreover, this therapy works on altering core beliefs related to pregnancy and parenting, fostering stronger mother-child bonding.
Self Care Counselling
Self-care counseling focuses on empowering you with essential skills to manage stress, prioritise rest and nutrition, engage in regular exercise, and practice mindfulness while caring for your baby.
Additionally, it enhances your coping mechanisms, helping you recover from crying spells and worries, thus improving your emotional stability.
Antidepressants are often necessary in managing most forms of depression, especially in cases of increasing severity. In most cases, breastfeeding mothers are prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) due to their minimal side effects, ensuring the safety of both the mother and the baby.
In some cases, hormone therapy might be considered, especially for women with hormonal imbalances contributing to postpartum depression. This therapy aims to stabilise hormone levels and alleviate symptoms.
Ways To Cope With Postpartum Depression
Prioritise self care and indulge in bonding activities with your little one / Image credit: Freepik
You may find relief from postpartum depression by making simple lifestyle adjustments. We’ve outlined a few practices that can significantly uplift your mood and help you manage your symptoms more effectively.
One of the most crucial steps in coping with postpartum depression is reaching out for support. Engage in open conversations with your partner, family, and friends about your emotions. Don’t hesitate to consult mental health professionals, join support groups, or connect with therapists specialising in postpartum depression.
Sharing your feelings not only lightens the emotional load but also offers invaluable perspectives and encouragement to navigate this challenging time.
Prioritise Self Care
Prioritise self care activities to enhance relaxation and elevate your mood. Indulge in post pregnancy care products that enhance your overall health and well-being. For instance, block some time for your AM and PM skincare routines to follow a nourishing regimen to tackle your postpartum skin concerns.
Some skincare products that are a must-have in your postpartum routine include:
- Toner: You can opt for The Moms Co.’s natural daily face toner, enriched with antioxidants to strengthen your skin barrier.
- Face scrub: Go for The Moms Co.’s natural green tea face scrub that gently exfoliates your skin and tackles pregnancy acne.
- Face cream: Apply The Moms Co.’s natural green tea face cream to soothe your complexion and reduce inflammation.
- Under eye cream: Use The Moms Co.’s natural vita-rich under-eye cream to reduce puffiness and dark circles.
- Face serum: Opt for The Moms Co.’s natural advanced 20% vitamin C serum to tackle hyperpigmentation and reduce the appearance of dull spots.
Establish A Routine
Establishing a routine can bring a sense of stability to your days. Create a schedule that includes regular sleep patterns, nutritious meals, and exercise. Adequate sleep, a balanced diet, and physical activity are essential for both your physical and mental health. A structured routine can help you regain a sense of control and stability in your life.
Connect With Your Baby
Building a strong bond with your baby can have a positive impact on your emotional state. Spend quality time with your little one, engaging in activities such as cuddling, singing, and playing.
Skin-to-skin contact, can also promote bonding and reduce stress for both you and your baby.
Have Nutritious And Healthy Meals
Finding time for yourself can be challenging, especially in the initial months after your baby’s arrival. However, prioritising healthy food choices is essential to combat postpartum fatigue and depression.
Hence, incorporate proteins and carbohydrates into your diet, and follow your doctor’s advice regarding vitamin supplements. Opting for nutrition-packed foods can significantly elevate your energy levels and mood, enabling you to combat exhaustion effectively.
Coping with postpartum depression is an ongoing process that requires patience, self-compassion, and support.
Know that reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. By reaching out to others, practicing self-care, establishing routines, connecting with your baby, considering therapy, and, if necessary, exploring medical options, you can effectively cope with postpartum depression and embark on a journey towards healing and recovery. Remember moms, you’ve got this!
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Cover Image Credit: Freepik.com