You’ve just put your new baby down to sleep, and life has never seemed so bleak. You feel depressed, anxious, frightened, overwhelmed and exhausted. You might even fear that you’re losing your mind. Your life’s routine is now in shambles, but who can you ask for help?
You Are Not Alone
Postpartum depression is surprisingly common. Between 40 and 80 percent of all new mothers will suffer from some degree of the baby blues. While the symptoms of this milder variety normally resolve after two to three weeks, the more serious condition of postpartum depression can last far longer and may require the assistance of antidepressants. If it happens to you, you’ll be sure of one thing: You can’t go on this way.
Causes of Postpartum Depression
Physicians now recognize three major triggers of postpartum depression. These include changes in:
- Physical condition. Following childbirth, a drop in levels of estrogen, progesterone and thyroid hormones are often responsible. Other contributory changes involve blood pressure and volume, metabolism and immune system.
- Emotional state. Sleep deprivation, anxiety and feelings of inadequacy can all contribute to the baby blues.
- Lifestyle. A difficult baby, family problems, financial difficulties and changes in routine can set off or worsen postpartum depression.
What You Can Do for Yourself
When you feel at your lowest, it may help to:
- Cry. Tears release toxins and correct hormone imbalances that can cause the blues, so go ahead and let them flow.
- Put on your jogging shoes. You may have to drag yourself off that couch, but a good run will release endorphins that can lift your mood.
- Get sufficient sleep. Grabbing a snooze whenever possible can only improve the situation.
- Eat healthy foods. Avoid, if you can, ingesting processed items laced with artificial dyes and flavors.
- Ask for help when you need it. There’s no need to be a supermom or even a super person. Just do what you can right now. The rest will come in time.
When Home-Grown Remedies Aren’t Enough
When all else fails, antidepressants are always an option. If your doctor feels you should go this route, be sure to tell them whether you are breastfeeding. If so, the class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors could help you the most while hurting your baby the least.
Never view the need for antidepressants as an admission of failure on your part. The condition is beyond your control, and you don’t deserve to suffer.
Hang in There
Remember, there are physical reasons for the way you feel. Understanding what’s going on is the first, most important step toward overcoming the problem. Hold on to one encouraging thought: Your depression won’t last forever.