Postpartum depression symptoms make it difficult for a woman to care for a newborn infant, interact with family and friends, and enjoy her life. Seeking professional postpartum depression help is the most important step a woman can take to treat depression symptoms.
In addition to medical treatment for depression, there are self-help strategies women can use once a postpartum depression diagnosis is made. These strategies can speed recovery times for postpartum depression.
Postpartum Depression and Childcare
The demands of caring for yourself and a new baby are challenging enough without the added strain of postpartum depression symptoms. Many women feel pressure to be perfect mothers, and may think that asking for childcare help means they are “failing” at motherhood. However, itÃ•s not a sign of weakness to need help with childcare, and when postpartum depression is an issue, childcare support is essential.Possibilities for childcare support include:
- Ask friends and family for help with meal preparation and housekeeping.
- Be honest about how much you can reasonably do.
- Breastfeeding mothers can use breast pumps so partners can help feed newborns at night, allowing the mother to sleep.
- Rather than focusing on what isnÃ•t done, focus on accomplishments.
- Remember that feeling overwhelmed is a sign help is needed.
- Take advantage of offers to care for the baby. Use the time to sleep, take a walk or visit with friends.
Partners of women suffering from postpartum depression need to be actively involved with newborn care.
Postpartum Depression Help: Emotional Support
Social withdrawal is a common postpartum depression symptom, and can make it difficult to get a formal postpartum depression diagnosis. Women suffering from postpartum depression may believe they aren’t good company for others, that they donÃ•t deserve to socialize or that they wonÃ•t enjoy other peopleÃ•s company.
Emotional support from friends, partners and family members helps combat these postpartum depression symptoms. Joining support groups for new mothers or women suffering from postpartum depression also allows the depressed woman to draw support from women who are having similar experiences.
Exercise and Diet to Reduce Postpartum Depression Symptoms
Even 10 minutes of exercise a day can improve mood and reduce postpartum depression symptoms. Other exercise benefits include:
- Improved self esteem
- Increased levels of serotonin
- Reduced levels of stress hormones
- Release of mood-enhancing chemicals.
Choosing exercise that gets you outside of the house, such as walking, also provides an increased chance of socializing. Pushing a baby stroller adds to the workout.
Dietary changes can also reduce postpartum depression symptoms. Limit refined sugars and carbohydrates in favor of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol can also help.
Finally, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help shed weight gained over pregnancy, which can improve self-esteem and body image.
Making Time for Pleasurable Activities
Depression saps a personÃ•s ability to engage in enjoyable activities. Difficult though it may be, women with postpartum depression should try to take part in pleasurable activities. Performing a normally enjoyable activity eventually helps reduce postpartum depression symptoms.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2008). Postpartum depression: Lifestyle and home remedies. Retrieved May 12, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: www.mayoclinic.com/health/postpartum-depression/DS00546/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies.
Smith, M.; Jaffe, J. (2007). Postpartum depression and the baby blues. Retrieved May 12, 2010, from the Help Guide website: helpguide.org/mental/postpartum_depression.htm#coping.
University of Michigan Depression Center Staff. (n.d.). Women and depression: Postpartum depression. Retrieved May 12, 2010, from the University of Michigan Depression Center website: www.depressioncenter.org/understanding/postpartum.asp.