Becoming a parent opens the floodgates to a lot of emotions. It draws on your mental and physical energy. From staying up late until night to waking up at odd hours, becoming a parent comes with multiple challenges.
Having a baby is an exciting, joyful, and frequently nervous time for most women. However, for women suffering from postpartum depression, this may be extremely unpleasant and stressful.
Depression that occurs after childbirth is known as postpartum depression. It is a mood disorder where a parent experiences profound sorrow, apathy, intrusive thoughts or worry, and alterations in energy, sleep, and hunger. It poses a threat to both the parent and the child.
Postpartum depression and baby blues are two different things. Unlike postpartum depression, baby blues is a temporary condition that doesn’t impact your regular activities and doesn’t necessitate medical treatment. Symptoms of baby blues include: crying for no apparent cause, irritation, restlessness, and worrying. These symptoms linger for a week or two and usually go away without therapy.
It’s estimated that approximately 1 in 7 women experiences postpartum depression. It is a dangerous but treatable medical condition. If you’re wondering how to deal with postpartum depression, continue reading.
What Are the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression?
The following are the symptoms of postpartum depression:
- Feeling disinterested in your child or that you aren't bonding with them
- Crying uncontrollably and frequently for no apparent reason
- A depressed state of mind
- Anger and irritability are at an all-time high
- Feelings of worthlessness, pessimism, and helplessness
- Loss of pleasure
- Having difficulty concentrating or making judgments
- Thoughts of suicide, death, or causing harm
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
Let's dive deeper by seeing what causes postpartum depression. The following factors can increase the likelihood of experiencing postpartum depression:
- A history of depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) in the past
- Age at the time of conception
- Uncertainty about the pregnancy and marital problems
- Number of children you’ve had before the given pregnancy
- Family history of mood issues
- Traumatic incidents
- Having a child with special needs or health issues
- Having triplets or twins
- Scarce social assistance
- Being a single parent
- Self-image issues
- Anxiety issues
- A drastic drop in estrogen and progesterone post-birth
Why Not Medication?
Postpartum depression treatment can be medication, psychotherapy, or both. Medications can include antidepressants like Paxil and Prozac. These medicines regulate serotonin, a mood-regulating chemical in the brain. However, these antidepressants can have some common side effects like nausea, dizziness, headache, restlessness, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, etc.
While most antidepressants are safe to use while breastfeeding, some amount will enter your breastmilk. Hence it is crucial to weigh out the consequences with a medical doctor or psychiatrist.
Although taking medication isn’t bad or shameful, it isn’t the only way to treat postpartum depression. Medications only treat the symptoms and never the root cause. It may take several weeks before you start feeling better. Besides, it may make you feel better right now, but what about your mental health in the long run? That’s what therapy is for.
How to Overcome Postpartum Depression With Therapy
Therapy is the best non-pharmaceutical treatment for learning how to deal with postpartum depression. It is a safe space for you to discuss how you feel about your baby and the situation. It acts as a vent, especially when you don’t have anyone to discuss your problems with.
You can learn to better manage your emotions, solve issues, create realistic objectives, and respond to circumstances constructively via therapy. Therapy can assist you in making sense of your problematic ideas and provide skills for dealing with them. Different therapeutic approaches useful for postpartum depression include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps individuals examine their thinking habits and counterproductive behaviors. Postpartum depression can be aggravated by new mothers' expectations for intensive parenting and the stress to be “ideal.” A CBT therapist can assist you in examining your maladaptive ideas and replacing them with more realistic views and positive self-talk.
In terms of behavioral modification, many new mothers try to take exemplary care of their newborn child to the point of exhaustion. A CBT therapist can also teach you new ways to look after yourself. Relaxation exercises and mindfulness meditation are examples of these. Keep in mind that taking care of yourself will help you feel better and adequately care for your child.
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy is a symptom-relieving, time-limited method of treatment. In most cases, the therapist will be pretty direct and engaged in the therapy. They will assist in discovering the roots of a new mother's anguish. Communication skills are a significant aspect of IPT because they help people create deeper relationships, have more social support, and improve self-confidence.
IPT is based on the idea that there are four problem regions in postpartum depression:
- Grief: Recognizing losses to one's sense of self, relationships, or a more particular loss.
- Role transitions: Loss of autonomy and evolving social networks are some examples of life stages and social transitions.
- Interpersonal disputes: These include unfulfilled hopes and intimacy issues within relationships, which are common following the birth of a child.
- Interpersonal deficits: Examining attachment issues in other relationships that may be distressing.
The function of the community in group therapy is used to provide support. Group therapy sessions are led by one or more experienced therapists and rely on the interactions occurring among group members to uncover trouble spots and interpersonal discomfort.
It involves psychoeducation like teaching about maternal mental diseases, causes, and treatment options, life strategies for well-being, typical new mom pressures, and so forth, with the critical function of group validation.
The postpartum depression support group aims to provide a safe environment for a mother to be heard by others and discover that she isn’t alone in her challenges. It also allows them to discuss and exchange ideas about managing stress, adapting, and initial motherhood.
During a crisis, couples therapy provides a safe environment for partners to be heard. Repetitive problematic behaviors within the relationship will be addressed in a couples therapy environment. Partners will learn communication and listening strategies to help them work through these issues.
Couples therapy will frequently address issues like shifting dynamics in a relationship and intimacy concerns. It also allows them to discuss personal needs that may be hindering the relationship and personal needs that are required in preserving the well-being of that relationship.
Online therapy is a good option, especially when you’ve just delivered the baby and need adequate rest. Online therapy doesn’t require you to travel to the therapist’s office. You can attend it from the comfort of your home. Furthermore, online counseling provides more flexibility to new mothers who are still adjusting to the change in their lives.
Online therapy also gives you the option to connect with the best therapists for you, irrespective of your location. New mothers often have a very inflexible schedule. In such circumstances, online therapy is a viable option since you can connect with your therapist over texts whenever you have time.
Self-Help Tips for Postpartum Depression
Therapy will be ineffective if unsubstantiated with healthy lifestyle choices and natural remedies. The following are a few self-help tips for coping with postpartum depression:
- Make healthy lifestyle choices and incorporate physical activity and other types of exercise in your regular routine, such as a stroll with your infant.
- Make an effort to obtain enough sleep. Adjust your child's schedule according to your own schedule. This will help you get the required amount of hours of sleep.
- Avoid alcohol and eat healthy foods.
- Set aside some time for yourself. Get out of the house and take some time for yourself. This might entail enlisting the help of a partner or hiring a babysitter.
- Engage in a pastime or other sort of entertainment that you enjoy. You might also set aside some time with your spouse or pals to spend alone.
- Avoid staying alone. Talk to other mothers about their experiences and share your own. Receiving care and assistance from others may improve your self-esteem and sense of independence, allowing you to better cope with issues on your own.
Postpartum depression is in no way your fault. It can deeply impact your coming years as a parent and partner. If you’re wondering how long postpartum depression can last, the answer is that it can last for quite a long time. Without adequate treatment via therapy, medication, or a blend, postpartum depression can have a significant, life-altering impact on you.
Therapists at DoMental are the best at what they do. They understand the individual differences at play and seek to assist you in your tough times. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach and ensure that your therapy plan fulfills your needs. We place great emphasis on confidentiality and beneficence to ensure that you can freely share what’s on your mind. With DoMental, therapy is not only convenient but also affordable and flexible.