Postpartum Depression: Symptoms and Remedies
Childbirth is a miraculous part of life, but postpartum depression can severely impact the wellness of new parents, as well as the health and development of their child. The more you know about postpartum depression, as well as the symptoms and potential remedies, the better your chances are to keep it at bay or treat it effectively.
Having a child is an incredible event in a person’s life, representing a completely new chapter of responsibilities, stresses, joys and challenges. Unfortunately, the transition from pregnant to new mother can be intense, accompanied by emotional and hormonal shifts, which can often manifest as postpartum depression. Experts suggest that the percentage of mothers that suffer from postpartum depression can be as high as 60%, although the severe cases, or those that extend into postpartum psychosis, are far more rare. The primary symptoms of postpartum depression are psychological in nature, including feelings of guilt, loneliness, sadness, exhaustion, frustration and even a lack of interest in taking care of your child. Anxiety and stress is also common; postpartum depression looks very similar to regular depression, but the timing and duration is what links it to the act of childbirth.
This is also not a condition that is only experienced by mothers. Fathers can also suffer postpartum depression, and studies have shown that as much as 25% of new fathers experience some sort of postpartum depression symptom. For this reason, since the hormonal levels in father don’t change as drastically as they do in women following childbirth, there is still a great deal of mystery surrounding the precise chemical pathways that cause postpartum depression. There are many other risk factors for the development of this type of depression, including low social support, previous miscarriage, smoking, single marital status, and a family history of depression, among others. Fortunately, there are also a number of proven remedies and preventative methods that can keep postpartum depression at bay, ensuring a happy life for you and your child!
Remedies for Postpartum Depression
B Vitamins: There are many different chemical processes in our body that can improve or negative impact our health. The production of excess homocysteine, for example, can result in inflammatory and mood instability. Recycling homocysteine through the one-carbon cycle can save the body time and energy, and this recycling is facilitated by appropriate levels of B vitamins, particularly vitamin B6, vitamin B9 and vitamin B12. These vitamins can also help you use the nutrients that are accessible in your food, thus improving health and wellness even more.
Fish Oil: Numerous studies have linked the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the body to mood stability and cognitive activity. Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is able to help control nervous system activity and reduce oxidative stress, which can contribute to mood instability and anxiety.
Meditation: A mind that is troubled by chronic stress or depression can be very difficult to handle, but there are ways to clear your mind and re-align your hormones without taking any medicine. For thousands of years, meditation has been turned on to reduce stress hormones and improve the mind-body connection. Postpartum depression is one of the ultimate examples of how linked our brains and bodies truly are, so if you’re feeling the pangs of depression after a month or two of delivery, give meditation a try!
Turmeric: The rich antioxidant content of turmeric is what makes this popular spice so important postpartum depression. The active ingredient of this spice, curcumin, is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it is so important. High levels of inflammation can cause mood instability and depressive symptoms, so clearing out your system and reducing oxidative stress with turmeric is highly recommended.
Yogurt: Although we don’t always think about this, more than 50% of the immune system’s functioning happens in the gut. This can have ramifications throughout the body, including mood and hormone levels. If something is wrong in your stomach, it can definitely contribute to symptoms of postpartum depression. Yogurt should be added to your diet to optimize digestion and balance the bacteria levels in your gut.
Exercise: When your hormones aren’t properly balanced, it can be easy to spiral into a bad cycle of depression and anxiety. Postpartum depression is still quite mysterious, but one common remedy for the “baby blues” is exercise. This will stimulate a more active metabolism, the release of toxins, and a flood or serotonin and other beneficial hormones that can improve mood and attitude.
Fortified Cereals: One of the most important neurotransmitters in the brain that affects mood, anxiety levels and depression is serotonin, but this can’t be produced in the brain without the proper minerals – including iron and niacin. If you are suffering from postpartum depression, you need to increase your serotonin levels, which means eating foods rich in these minerals. Fortified cereals possess high levels of both compounds, so should be added to your daily breakfast regimen.
Vitamin D: Calcium and vitamin D have a unique relationship, because the body needs vitamin D to use calcium properly. Studies have shown that high calcium levels equate to lower incidence rates of postpartum depression. Therefore, consuming milk that has been fortified with vitamin D is important, or you can simply step outside and let your skin produce vitamin D with the help of sunlight.
Ginkgo Biloba: When looking for an herbal supplement to counter feelings of anxiety or postpartum depression, you don’t need to look much further than ginkgo biloba. This ancient remedy is thought to induce production of serotonin in the brain, which can counteract the depleted hormone levels and boost mood, helping you get back to normal and raise your new baby with a smile on your face. Regular ginkgo supplements can be taken daily for best results.
St. John’s Wort: One legendary herbal remedy for postpartum depression (and other forms of depression) is St. John’s Wort, which contains a number of chemical compounds that directly stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain. This can effectively eliminate the feelings of loneliness and depression that is associated with this painful parental condition.
A Final Word of Warning: While postpartum depression typically fades over time, and can be moderated with these natural remedies, severe cases can turn into postpartum psychosis, and even lead to infanticide. If you are feeling overwhelmed by postpartum depression, and are thinking of hurting yourself or others, you should speak to a medical or psychological professional immediately.