Postpartum Depression: Overcoming it in 10 Steps
What exactly is Postpartum Depression? Postpartum Depression is a mood disorder that affects 10-20 percent of women after childbirth, that means 1 out of 7 women experience varying levels of the “baby blues”. This makes postpartum depression a very common disorder, but a very serious one nonetheless.
What are some of the symptoms that women experience? Sometimes this leaves new mothers feeling like they’re incapable of taking care of themselves, or their newborn child. Crying often and sometimes without any reasoning is not uncommon. Among other symptoms are:
- Inability to concentrate or remember things.
- Eating too much or eating too little.
- Difficulties bonding with the newborn, not wanting to get close to the child.
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your child.
- Persistently doubting your ability to care for your child.
- Withdrawing from family and friends, refusing to socialize.
- Inability to fall asleep or inability to get out of bed.
If you have any of these symptoms, this does not make you a bad mother and you are not alone. Postpartum Depression is treatable and a visit to your doctor could help alleviate some of the symptoms you’re experiencing. Going untreated increases the risk of PPD lasting for many months and even years.
What can I do now to help overcome my PPD?
- Give yourself permission to feel bad. Being a new mother is not an easy feat. It challenges you to be your best for not just yourself, but for your newest addition to your family. You’re allowed to panic, stress, and hurt. Your body is undergoing changes as it coping and healing from childbirth. It’s normal, so embrace your emotions without guilt.
- Track your emotions. How often are you fighting the urge to hide? How often are you crying? Did you have a panic attack? Start tracking and keeping a written log of what you’re doing and when you start feeling overwhelmed and unhappy. This will be beneficial in the long run.
- Notify your doctor. They’ve seen this case a thousand times, and they know how to treat it. You will not be judged or seen as a bad mother if you’re suffering from depression after childbirth, even if it’s been a few months. Reaching out to a doctor allows you to get the help you need to make tackling motherhood easier. Give them the details of how often you’re feeling the effects of PPD and they will help.
- Take some “Mom Time”. That’s right. Pull the “mom” card, you’re allowed to now. You brought life into this world and you’re allowed to take a second and focus on yourself. Remember what makes you happy, hobbies you like to do. Becoming a mother doesn’t stop who you were before, so take some time to remember who that person is.
- Start introducing your child to the things you enjoy. Start attempting to bond by listening to your favorite music with them, watch movies you enjoy together, and take small strolls. Talk to them like they’re your friend, even though they may not understand you just yet. It’ll be great for you and the baby.
- Start getting the rest you need. When the baby sleeps, try to sleep too. It’s going to be difficult pulling away from your usual consistent sleep schedule pre-motherhood, but it’s not impossible. When you aren’t fully rested, you’re more likely to forget things and make little mistakes that can make the world feel like it’s crumbling down.
- Eat healthy and eat well. Sometimes it seems easier to just not eat at all or eat the foods that you think are going to comfort you, but eating healthy foods helps boost more than your metabolism. Eating proper foods can boost moods and make tackling your PPD a bit easier. Berries, salmon, oatmeals, and bananas are foods that do wonders for boosting your mood, little by little.
- Reach out to loved ones. Don’t isolate yourself. Sometimes socializing seems like work, but it pays off in the end. Allow yourself to be comforted by friends and family. You are not inconveniencing anyone by expressing that you’re depressed. Having that reminder that you aren’t alone and you still have a support system is hugely beneficial when going up against PPD.
- Try exercising more. You might have loved this before the baby, or you might have hated it. Either way, moving around more helps boost serotonin levels and treats depression. You may think it’ll just tire you out more, but working out can often give you a second wind of energy that can fuel the rest of your day. A simple walk a day can help.
- Deep breaths. Breathing isn’t going to cure you, but taking a second to capture all your worries in one breathe and let them out with an exhale can help give you the strength to cope with your Postpartum Depression. Meditation is great to begin practicing! It’ll help you slow your mind down so you can handle things better, one by one. This takes practice, so don’t worry if it doesn’t work right away.
There is no magical cure-all for Postpartum Depression, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take it down yourself. By applying the steps that work for you, you will notice yourself feeling better slowly, but surely. Progress is never immediate, but finding strength day-to-day can make all the difference for the life of you, your child, and your family.
If your depression is worsening and you fear you may take the life of yourself or your child, please call either 911 or reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, available 24/7. You are never alone and you are normal for experiencing the effects of postpartum depression.