How to Help a New Mom Overcome Postpartum Depression
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report as many as 10 to 15 percent of American women experience postpartum depression within their first year after giving birth. Both young mothers and women experience relationship-stress are most at risk for developing this condition.
Postpartum depression symptoms can greatly impair a mother’s ability to properly care for her child. Helping a new mother cope with postpartum depression entails encouraging self-care practices within her daily routine and emphasizing the importance of seeking out social supports during this difficult period.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
With the hormone level fluctuations taking place after a woman gives birth, a certain degree of mild depression and moodiness is to be expected. Under normal circumstances, these changes only last for a couple weeks. Postpartum depression occurs in cases where these effects get worse or last longer than two to three weeks.
Some of the most common symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Low energy levels
- No motivation
- Lack of interest in the baby
- Frequent thoughts of suicide
- Negative feelings toward the baby
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Worries about harming the baby
- Weight gains or losses
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Feelings worthless and/or guilty
Postpartum depression can appear soon after giving birth and become progressively worse over time. It can also come on suddenly, with no symptoms appearing until months after childbirth. For many women, this condition can last for several months at a time.
Not surprisingly, postpartum depression symptoms all but mirror the symptoms associated with other depression disorders. Depression, in general, results from chemical imbalances in the brain. While medication therapies are commonly used to treat depression symptoms, making changes in a person’s daily routine can work just as well in helping a new mother to overcome postpartum depression symptoms.
Simple lifestyle changes can help a new mother develop a healthier perspective and outlook towards her baby and her new role as a mother. Lifestyle changes to consider include:
- Getting a full night of sleep, not to exceed eight hours
- Setting aside time to relax
- Daily pampering practices, such as bubble baths, walks around the neighborhood and hot cups of tea
- Eating healthy
- Spending time outdoors
- Daily exercise routines
Like most any form of depression, new mothers experiencing postpartum depression tend to isolate themselves from friends and family. While this may seem like the most natural course of action for a new mother in this condition, isolating only works to worsen depression symptoms. Encouraging a new mother to stay connected with family and friends during this time can greatly help in overcoming depression symptoms.
As new mothers have taken on a whole new role in their lives, not knowing what to do or what to expect only increases the amount of fear and anxiety they feel. Encouraging a new mother to join a support group made up of other new moms can help alleviate much of fear and anxiety she feels in her new role.