The process of giving birth is happy moment for many mothers, but there are some cases where it can result in something you may not expect, and that it is depression. Many new mothers can experience baby blues which include depression, anxiety, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, or crying spells. Postpartum depression is a severe long-lasting form of depression. The specific cause of postpartum depression is not clear, but some studies suggest that psycho-social stressors, biological vulnerability, and hormonal fluctuation may be some of the factors precipitating to it. Postpartum depression can have many symptoms including inability to sleep or sleeping too much; depressed mood or severe mood swings; loss of appetite or eating much more than usual; excessive crying; withdrawing from family and friends; difficulty bonding with your baby; fear that you are not a good mother; intense irritability and anger, etc. There are some factors that can increase your risk of getting postpartum depression, such as if you have difficulty breast-feeding; if you have a history of depression either during pregnancy or at other times; if your baby has health problems or other special needs; if you have bipolar disorder; if you have experienced stressful events during the past year, such as illness, job loss, or pregnancy complications; if you have a weak support system; if the pregnancy was unwanted or unplanned; if you have financial problems, etc. You need to talk with your doctor which is the best therapy for your postpartum depression. Do not take these home remedies on your own.
Home remedies for postpartum depression:
Avoid isolation: There are many women who may be tempted to keep these feelings for themselves, especially if they are naturally reserved people. However, isolation can worsen your mental state, and precipitate to postpartum depression . That’s why, you should talk with your partner, family, and friends about how you are feeling as this can be helpful for your well-being. You will find out that you are not alone, and that others are willing to listen. Also, you should ask other mothers about their experiences. When you get rid of isolation, you will be able to feel human again.
Exercise: There are studies that found that when women with postpartum depression exercised regularly, anti-depressive effects were observed . There was one study in 2008 which examined the effectiveness of an exercise support program on reducing depression symptoms following childbirth. In this study, 18 women have participated, and they were assigned to either the control group (who received standard care) or the intervention group (who received exercise support) at six weeks postpartum. The exercise program used consisted of one hour per week at the hospital, and two sessions at home for three months. This study found that the group that has received the exercise program was less likely to have high depression scores after childbirth compared to the group that did not receive the exercise support program. It was, therefore, concluded that exercise benefited the psychological well-being of women.
Natural cures for postpartum depression
Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency can trigger depression [3, 4]. It is very important to get enough Vitamin D during your pregnancy since your body is more vulnerable than ever after childbirth. One of the best ways to get the Vitamin D is to stay out in the sun for fifteen to twenty minutes per day. It is especially recommended to stay out before 10am, and after 3pm so that your skin doesn’t absorb the harmful UV rays that are at their peak between 10am and 3pm. If you are busy, and you cannot go out in the sun between these hours, then you can take Vitamin D supplements. Talk with your gynecologist about the recommended dosage. Most prenatal supplements have at least 1000 IU of Vitamin D in them. Also, you can add food high in Vitamin D to your diet, such as mushrooms, cheese, oysters, fatty fish and egg yolk.
Massage therapy: The long-term effects of massage have not been studied, but there are some studies suggesting that massage therapy can offer short-term improvements in stress levels as well as the general mood during the postpartum period . Combination of aromatherapy and massage can be helpful in addressing some of the symptoms associated with postpartum depression.
Vitamin B complex: Vitamin B deficiency, especially Vitamin B12 (cobalamin), Vitamin B9 (folate), and Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) have been linked to depression. Many women are not getting enough of these vitamins, especially vegans who tend to be deficient in Vitamin B12. B vitamins normally maintain your nervous system, and the way you function at normal levels. This is a reason why women should take food-based supplements, therefore helping to prevent and treat postnatal depression. You can also consume food rich in B Vitamins, such as organic grass-fed red meat, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, oranges, cheese, clam, eggs, nutritional yeast, blackstrap molasses, fish, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.
Rest and relax: The spirit and body need a good night’s sleep. If your baby is not sleeping for long periods, then you should find someone to care for your baby so you can sleep. If you have trouble with sleeping, then you should try reading a good book, taking a hot bath or whatever helps you relax. Massage and meditation can ease the tension and help you fall asleep.
Omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3 fatty acids are known as brain food. This means that your body needs a healthy dose of Omega 3 fatty acids to function properly. Lack of Omega 3 fatty acids can lead to fogginess, anxiety, and depression . You should consume food rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish (like sardines and salmon), extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds (like walnut, flax seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds), mustard oil, Omega3-enriched eggs, and winter squash.
Calcium & magnesium: Calcium and magnesium are minerals that normally have natural calmative effect, not just for the muscles but also for the nervous system. These minerals will bring tranquility and calmness to a hyperactive nervous system, so they can reduce the chance of getting postnatal anxiety attacks that some new moms go through . Also, these minerals are good for moms who have or are prone to insomnia, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), and other forms of anxiety. You should consume foods that are rich in calcium, such as tahini, green beans, fish, almonds, okra, broccoli, dark leafy greens, raw milk, or yogurt. You should also consume foods rich in magnesium, such as blackstrap molasses, dried figs, whole grains, banana, avocado, or dark leafy greens. You might also take calcium and magnesium supplements, but talk with your doctor about the recommended dosage.
Cut back on chores: If you are having errands and chores, then you should let them go. You need to use your energy to take basic care for yourself and your baby. You can ask for help from your family and friends.
Make time for yourself: You should take some time for yourself if you feel that the world is coming down around you. You should get dressed and leave the house. You should run an errand or visit a friend. Also, you can schedule some alone time with your partner.
Herbs for postpartum depression: Some herbs which you can use for postpartum depression are passionflower, lavender, and chamomile. You should brew some passionflower, lavender, or chamomile tea, and sip it two to three times per day. The chamomile tea can also help with colic as well as digestive upset, and it can help your baby calm down.
Aromatherapy: There was one pilot study in 2012 which observed positive effects of aromatherapy on improving postpartum depression and anxiety . Rose, bergamot, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, jasmine, and lavender essential oils are the most used essential oils for anxiety and depression [9, 10]. You should find an aromatherapy specialist near you, or you can try experimenting with essential oils at your home. You can rub the diluted 1% solution of the essential oil onto your skin, like for example at the back of your neck, on your feet or temples. You can also use them in bathwater or spray them into the air to inhale. You should try different types of essential oils to see which is best for you and your symptoms.
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 Wong SK, Chin KY, Ima-Nirwana S. Vitamin D and Depression: The Evidence from an Indirect Clue to Treatment Strategy. Current drug targets. 2018;19(8):888-97.
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