After birth women around the world experience a common condition called postpartum depression (PPD). About 80% of women are affected by baby blues for up to two weeks after birthing, with approximately 10-15% of women undergoing some form of mood disorder, ranging from a major depression to some anxiety attacks. Those who experience this once, tend to experience it after every birth. However true psychosis only occurs 1 in 1000 births, where women often feel out of touch, hallucinating and hearing voices. The concerning fact is that up to 50% of depression cases go undiagnosed and therefore are untreated.
“Depression is melancholy minus its charm.” – Susan Sontag.
Some mothers after birth, instead of sharing a happy moment with their family and friends suddenly begin to feel guilty, sad, and worthless. For many it is common to go through episodes of uncontrollable crying, irrational thinking, entangled emotions without knowing the reason behind it. Panic attacks while feeling a sense of shame or fear of losing control of one’s actions, women start feeling like their mind is tumbling, and concentration is vanishing. Feeling nauseous, agitated, as heart races with complicated breathing. The symptoms increase as one feels an imbalanced level of worry towards the child, and hopelessness since one has no control. Exhausted from all the mental changes, suicidal tendencies might surface as inability to see the light becomes more real.
Mothers that suffer from postpartum depression often have an underlying psychological impairment, possible biological imbalances, including posttraumatic stress especially if the mother has undergone a terrible birthing. It is important for mothers with postpartum depression to seek help immediately, since the diagnosis does not only affect the patient, but also everyone around including the baby. Babies need their mothers, and when mothers are unable to provide emotional nourishment and loving care, then babies suffer as they grow into adulthood.
According to Dana Ullman, depression creates blah-itis, an inflamed state of blahs where you lose interests in everything that you love and really begin hating the things you were not sure about. This is where you start doubting everything and everyone in your life, except your own doubts.
Most professionals treat postpartum depression with antidepressants combining it with therapy. Recently studies are finding that depression may also be treated with Electromagnetic therapy. Scientists are constantly searching for a solution to treat depression so there is always hope.
Studies have also shown that writing down your episodes and feelings is a great therapeutic relief. Talking is also a great source for eliminating stress, which is often linked to depression. It is important to get regular checkups after your baby is born to eliminate biological reasoning for the postpartum depression. In most cases, doctors may prescribe Valiums, Prozac, or Zoloft. It depends on the person, but for some mothers one or the other medications work, while others have no results.
If you are suffering postpartum depression, it is also important for the family to offer support and understanding. Since, you may have suicidal thoughts the last thing anyone needs to do is push you over the edge. It is also important that the resentment you feel is not necessary toward your baby. It could be that you resent an area of your life, or an occurrence and the baby seems to be the target. According to Christine Northrup, a lot of unfinished business with the woman’s own mother and father at the time of birth can also increase the risk of postpartum depression.
Taking vitamin B-complex and tryptophan amino acid are highly recommended. Both increase the brain’s release of serotonin, which is a natural anti-depressant. Foods high in tryptophan include oats, bananas, dried dates, turkey, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, tuna, poultry, sesame, chickpeas, soybeans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and peanuts. Limit your protein intake to no more than one protein meal per day, as too much protein inhibits the brain’s intake of tryptophan and increases feelings of depression. Avoid any alcohol, cigarettes and limit your sugar and junk food intake as these can depress you both physically and emotionally.
Increase sunlight exposure, since light has been found to affect brain chemicals in a way that reduces depressive states. Allow more light into your home by lifting up blinds or shades and start wearing lighter and brighter clothes. You might want to try listening to light and easy music when you feel a sense of loss. Music has proven to heal the soul, and according to Elizabeth Miles, Philip V of Spain was cured of depression by opera arias performed by the Italian singer Farinelli.
In addition, you might want to start exercising since this has proven to do wonders with people that suffer mental or physical illnesses. Exercise relieves the mind often because you are doing something to better yourself and improve your health. Relaxation, meditation, tai chi or yoga are excellent options.
Expressing oneself through drawing or painting, allows one to feel better, and if you need to start crying, do so as crying is actually very healthy for you. Crying allows to release bottled up emotions, and tears contain toxins that need to be released by the body. It also allows the energy to be moved around the body and this sometimes can change your perspective on things.
It is beneficial to pamper yourself with ‘real’ flowers from a local florist as flowers make you feel more appreciated. In addition, you can pamper yourself with some Bach Flowers or Australian Bush Flowers remedies, by visiting a local health food store. Useful Bach Flowers remedies for depression are: Sweet Chestnut; Mustard; Crab Apple and useful Australian Bush Flowers remedies for depression are: Emergency Essence, Calm & Clear, and Cognisance.
The recommended herbs for depression are St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), Kelp (Laminaria, Macrocustis, Ascophyllum), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia), Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica), Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita). No contraindications exist for any of these herbs, however interactions with some prescribed drugs exist for St John’s Wort, Ginkgo and Chamomile. Therefore check with your local health care provider.
Finally, if you are in postpartum depression, there are many ways to overcome this condition, it is important to never give up hope.
“In moments of discouragement, defeat, or even despair, there are always certain things to cling to. Little things usually: remembered laughter, the face of a sleeping child, a tree in the wind-in fact, any reminder of something deeply felt or dearly loved. No man is so poor as not to have many of these small candles. When they are lighted, darkness goes away-and a touch of wonder remains.” – Unknown.