“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability and can give rise to incapacity for work and suffering for the patient and the relatives. For many women the time after delivery is a period of increased psychological vulnerability. Postpartum depression (PPD) is reported to be the most common complication of childbirth (Bergstrom, Wallin, Thomson & Flacking, p. 143, 2012)."
PPD occurs in 10-15% of women worldwide. It is found across cultures, landscapes, and ages. The onset of postpartum depression (PPD) peaks at three months postpartum. However, it can begin any time in the first year postpartum, and continue beyond that time frame.
Social and emotional symptoms of PPD include unmanageable mood swings, withdrawal and seclusion from family and friends, feelings of hopelessness or being exceptionally overwhelmed, feeling unmotivated, fear of being alone, fear of hurting oneself, one’s partner, or the baby.
Common physical symptoms are sleep disruption (sleeping too much, or too little), fatigue, loss of appetite. Tremors, chest pain and headache may also be present. To be clinically diagnosed as having PPD the patient must have 5 or more of the common symptoms for at least 2 weeks.
Experiencing mild depressive symptoms during the first few days to a couple of weeks postpartum is common in an average of 50% and up to 80% of mothers. These mild early symptoms are usually referred to as baby blues. In addition, there is an even less frequent, and much more serious set of symptoms in postpartum psychosis. This occurs in fewer than 1 in 500 women, is usually associated with bipolar, and requires hospitalization.
PPD is more severe than postpartum blues or baby blues, lasts longer, and in contrast to baby blues, does require treatment. PPD ranges from mild to severe. Mild to moderate PPD can often be healed naturally and with home treatments. Severe PPD is more likely to require medication and the help of a psychiatrist or at least a family doctor. However, it is not as severe as postpartum psychosis and rarely requires hospitalization.
I do not like to just write an article about problems we encounter in life without offering some practical solutions. I am currently working on an eBook as well as a course to help women get through postpartum depression with natural home treatments. For now I will offer you a few tools that helped me tremendously.
1. Support- if you are feeling baby blues, depression or anxiety, please do whatever you can to get support. Don’t be afraid to tell people how you feel, and don’t feel ashamed of feeling this way. Accepting my feelings of depression was the best thing I could have done. Until then, while I denied them, I could not be helped in any way, not by myself nor by others. Only once I accepted my feelings was I able to get to the root of my depression and address my needs appropriately.
2. Creative outlet- I found this to be essential for my wellbeing throughout my life and especially at difficult times. I love to dance. Just putting music on in my living room and moving my body is healing and can help move the tears through so I don’t feel as stuck emotionally. I also love to paint, or doodle with a pen or with markers. Choose your medium to help you express yourself and get your feelings moving through you. Emotion is E-Motion, energy in motion. When your emotions are stuck that can result in depression.
3. Exercise- studies have shown that physical movement alleviates depression. I would also add fresh air to your exercise or to your daily routine whenever possible. Sometimes a slow walk is the most healing medicine. Listen to your body. Try to get in tune with your body and its physical needs. Meeting your body’s needs can have a tremendous effect on your emotional state.
4. Nutrition- when I’m feeling sad, depressed or stuck I go straight for the sugar. But the enjoyment of the sugar only lasts as long as I’m eating the sugar. So, before eating a whole bag of marshmallows, or whatever your treat of choice is, I would recommend to make yourself a beautiful salad, cut up a beautiful piece of fruit, or make yourself a hot cup of tea.
5. Passion- parenting takes over our lives. But throughout your parenting journey do your best to continuously check in with yourself and ask yourself “what am I passionate about?” Each day make sure to address your passions. Do something you love to do each day. This could be as simple as taking a bath, taking a walk, listening to music, picking up your guitar or your paints, truly enjoying your baby, talking to your best friend, etc. Make sure you have something you are looking forward to each day when you open your eyes in the morning.
6. Appreciation- Each day look for things you appreciate. Before you go to sleep make a list in your mind, or on paper, of everything you appreciate about the previous day. Make appreciation lists about your partner, your parent, your child, or your friend. Make appreciation lists about the weather, about the earth, about yourself. If you are really down this can be much more easily said than done. If you are depressed and find appreciation to be too far away then stay right where you are. Appreciate one single feeling in your body. Be present to your physical sensations. Be present to the way a tear feels sliding down your cheek. Experience the feeling of your pillow supporting your head and your neck as you fall asleep at night.
Those are my top 6 tips for coping with depression. I’ll keep you posted about my upcoming eBook and eCourse.