When Does Postpartum Depression Happen?
The timing varies. It often starts within the first month after giving birth. It can start several months after having a baby. About 1/3 of women with postpartum depression have symptoms which started in pregnancy and continue after birth.
Ways you can help yourself:
What does it feel like to have postpartum depression?
You may have some or all of the these symptoms:
You feel sad, unhappy and tearful alot of the time. You may feel worse at certain times of the day, like mornings or evenings.
You may get irritable or angry with your partner, baby or other children.
All new mothers get pretty tired. Depression can make you feel utterly exhausted and lacking in energy.
Even though you are tired, you can't fall asleep. You may lie awake worrying about things. You wake during the night even when your baby is asleep. You may wake very early, before your baby wakes up.
You may lose your appetite and forget to eat. Some women eat for comfort and then feel bad about gaining weight.
Unable to enjoy anything-
You find that you can't enjoy or be interested in anything. You may not enjoy being with your baby.
Loss of interest in sex-
There are several reasons why you lose interest in sex after having a baby. It may be painful or you may be too tired. PND can take away any desire. Your partner may not understand this and feel rejected.
Negative and guilty thoughts-
Depression changes your thinking:
You might think that you are not a good mother or that your baby doesn't love you.
You may feel guilty for feeling like this or that this is your fault.
You may lose your confidence.
You might think you can't cope with things.
Most new mothers worry about their babies' health. If you have postpartum depression, the anxiety can be overwhelming.
You may worry that:
your baby is ill
your baby is not gaining enough weight
your baby is crying too much and you can't calm them
your baby is too quiet and might have stopped breathing
you might harm your baby
your depression will never get better.
You may be so worried that you are afraid to be left alone with your baby. You may need
re-assurance from your partner or doctor.
Avoiding other people-
You may not want to see friends and family. You might find it hard to go to postnatal support groups.
You may feel that things will never get better. You may think that life is not worth living. You may even wonder whether your family would be better off without you.
1.Don't be frightened by the diagnosis. Many women have postnatal depression and you will get better in time. Your partner, friends or family can be more helpful and understanding if they know what the problem is.
2. Tell someone about how you feel. It can be a huge relief to talk to someone understanding. This may be your partner, a relative or friend. If you can't talk to your family or friends, talk to your doctor or a counselor. They will know that these feelings are common and will be able to help.
3. Make sure you eat regularly, even if you don't feel like eating. Eat healthy food.
4. Let others help you with housework, shopping and looking after other children.
5.Take every opportunity to get some sleep or rest during the day or night. If you have a helpful partner, relative or friend, ask them to feed the baby at night sometimes. You can use your own expressed breast milk, or formula milk for this. If you are on your own, try and rest when the baby sleeps.
6.Get some exercise. Ask your health adviser if there are any mother and baby exercise classes in your area. Walking with your baby in the stroller is good exercise. Regular exercise can boost your mood.
7.Find time for yourself to do things you enjoy or help you relax - e.g. go for a walk, read a magazine, listen to music.
If you have a partner, do try to enjoy some time together. If you are a single mother, try to do something enjoyable with a friend or family member.
8.Try going to local groups for new mothers or postnatal support groups. Your health visitor can tell you about groups in your area. You may not feel like going to these groups if your are depressed. See if someone can go with you. You may find the support of other new mothers helpful. You may find some women who feel the same way as you do.
9.Don't blame yourself, your partner or close friends or relatives. Life is tough at this time, and tiredness and irritability can lead to fighting.
10.Don't turn to alcohol or drugs. They may make you feel better for a short time, but it doesn't last. Alcohol and drugs can make depression worse. They can also damage your physical health.
SAM-e, pronounced "sammy", is short for S-adenosyl-L-methionine. It's a chemical that's found naturally in the human body and is believed to increase levels of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
Several studies have found SAM-e is more effective than placebo.
In North America, SAM-e is available as an over-the-counter supplement in health food stores, drug stores, and online. It should be enteric-coated for maximum absorption. Although it's one of the more expensive supplements, it remains popular as a remedy for depression and osteoarthritis.
Omega-3 fatty acids-
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of good fat needed for normal brain function. Our bodies can't make omega-3s on their own, so we must obtain them through our diet.
Studies have linked depression with low dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids. In countries with higher fish consumption, such as Japan and Taiwan, the depression rate is 10 times lower than in North American. Postpartum depression is also less common.
Studies suggest that omega-3's together with antidepressants may be more effective than antidepressants alone.
St. John's Wort-
The herb St. John's wort has long been used in folk medicine for sadness, worry, nervousness, and poor sleep.
Today, the results of over 20 clinical trials suggest that St. John's wort works better than a placebo and is as effective as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression, with fewer side effects.
Studies suggest that St. John's wort is not effective for major depression.
It's available at health food stores, drug stores, and online in the form of capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, or tea.
Folic acid, also called folate, is a B vitamin that is often deficient in people who are depressed.
Folate is found in green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, fruit, beans, and fortified grains. It's one of the most common vitamin deficiencies because of poor diet but also because chronic conditions and various medications such as aspirin and birth control pills can also lead to deficiency.
Besides food, folic acid is also available as a supplement or as part of a B-complex vitamin.
Increasing vitamin B-6 and Magnesium has also been said to be helpful.
Also exercise and sunlight can help fight all types of depression. So find a few minutes to step out side for a short stroll.
(Please know there is a difference between Baby Blues (feeling down for a couple of days and Postpartum Depression. DO NOT hesitate to contact your midwife, doctor or other health care professional if you think you may be dealing with this or if a loved one is. Don't ignore it. Postpartum Depression can become serious if left untreated/unsupported. Also note: You are NOT alone! This is actually a very common diagnosis and is treatable!)
*This is a great resource for Postpartum Depression Information: