Did you know that large numbers of women around the world will be affected by post-natal depression? In fact, research shows that each year somewhere between 11% – 20% of women who give birth will suffer from the condition.
But it’s not something you have to deal with alone. And, while drugs are sometimes recommended, there are lots of different services and professional support you can connect with, and a range of things you can do to assist in your road to recovery.
Firstly, what causes post-natal depression? Just like many other mental health conditions, it seems that there are many different potential causes of post-natal depression. What is known is that it is a very real, clinical form of depression that often needs professional support to be managed. Medical professionals believe that causes may include:
- Dramatic hormonal and chemical changes that occur in your body during and after labor
- A traumatic or premature labor
- Having a child who is experiencing health problems
- Experiencing health problems as a result of your labor
- Adjusting to the physical demands of motherhood (breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, and changes in your own body)
- Adjusting to the emotional demands of motherhood (isolation, relationship or financial pressures)
Postnatal depression can be debilitating. When you’re feeling depressed, it can be really hard to gather the energy you need to take care of yourself. This makes it important that you reach out for help, as early as possible. If you feel like you might be suffering, seek professional medical help straight away – there are many different treatments and supports available to you.
In addition, there are lots of things you can try for yourself. We’ve outlined some tips here that might help you along the way to improving your physical and mental health while you’re recovering from postnatal depression:
- Make time for your own self-care
If you can, take the time to do some things that will help you to look after yourself. For example, take a long warm shower, make yourself a nutritious meal, go for a short walk. Remember that to be able to look after your baby, you need to look after yourself first!
- Get some exercise
Finding the time and energy for exercise when you’re adjusting to parenting can be really tough, especially if you’re dealing with postnatal depression. But a little exercise each day can help to improve your mental health. Try a gentle yoga session, a short walk or a new-mums exercise class. Or take a look online for a suitable guided exercise routine you can do at home.
- Make time to interact with other adults
Adult human interaction can be really important. Try setting up a coffee date with a friend, or even just coordinating visits to the park so you get some catch-up time. Parents’ groups can be a great idea, and you can find groups online now too as a great way to make new friends and talk about your experiences.
- Find a support group
It’s really important to understand that you’re not alone, and support groups are a great way to connect with other people experiencing similar things. All cities and towns have support groups for new parents, where you can share your story, feelings, and experiences without judgment. It can be really helpful to meet others going through the same hardships. And if a group doesn’t appeal to you, one-on-one therapy sessions to talk things through can be a really positive alternative step.
Mental health conditions, including postnatal depression, are complicated. Often getting the help you need will involve reaching out to others, and in some cases seeking professional help. There are lots of natural things you can do to help your mental health, but if the things on this list seem too hard to do, talk with a professional who can help you with treating your postnatal depression. They’ll be able to help. And before you know it, you’ll be on the road to recovery and feeling like yourself again.