The period after you have put to bed may be filled with many emotions. You may feel everything from joy to fear to sadness. If you feel sad and it starts to become severe and starts to interfere with your everyday life, you may be experiencing postpartum depression (PPD).
Symptoms of PPD usually start within a few weeks of delivery, though they may develop up to six months afterwards. These symptoms may include mood swings, trouble bonding with your baby, and difficulty thinking or making decisions.
The most effective way to diagnose and treat PPD is by visiting your doctor. Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms and devise the best treatment plan for you. You may benefit from psychotherapy, antidepressants, or some combination of both.
There are also things you can do at home to help cope with everyday life.
How to Deal With Postpartum Depression
Try these lifestyle changes to help you cope with postpartum depression.
Create time for yourself
You are probably feeling stuck on the couch breastfeeding (How to get a Flat Stomach after Birth), or maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed by work, household responsibilities, or your older children. Instead of dealing with these stresses alone, reach out for help.
Take up your mother or mother-in-law on her offer of free babysitting. Let your partner or another trusted adult take the baby for an hour or two. If you can only get out of the house between nursing sessions, you can use this time to decompress. Try to take a stroll, take a nap, go to a movie, or do some yoga and meditation.
Exercise when you can
In a study published in Mental Health and Physical Activity, walking was found to be a statistically significant way to ease depression. If you can’t fit in a long exercise session, try working out for 10 minutes a few times during the day.
Get enough rest
Women who get the least sleep experience depression. In the early days, they may not sleep through the night. You may find it helpful to take naps or go to bed early. If you’re breastfeeding, try pumping a bottle so your partner can take care of an overnight feeding or two.
Maintain a healthy diet
This alone won’t cure postpartum depression but getting into the habit of eating nutritious foods can help you feel better and give your body the nutrients you need. Eat whole foods, such as chopped carrots and cubed cheese or apple slices and peanut butter that are easy to grab on the go.
Focus on fish oils
This is a very good time to beef up your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, like DHA. According to an article published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, women who have low levels of DHA have higher rates of postpartum depression.
Seafood is an excellent dietary source of DHA, and If you’re a vegetarian, flaxseed oil is another great source. You can also find fish oil supplements at your local grocery store.
Don't Isolate Yourself
The days may blend, making you feel isolated at times. Researchers discovered that new mothers had lower levels of depression after regularly talking with experienced mothers who had previously experienced PPD.
Try your best to get out or at least chat with other adults and mums for support (Postpartum Recovery: Healing after childbirth).
When to see your doctor
Although a lot of women experience postpartum depression in the first several weeks following delivery, PPD is marked by deeper and longer-lasting feelings of sadness and agitation. These feelings can get worse and become chronic depression without medical help.
It is advised that you make an appointment with your doctor if you notice feelings of depression after birth, especially if they don’t go away after a couple of weeks or get worse with time. Your doctor can point you in the right direction to get the support you need.