11 Natural Remedies For Postpartum Depression

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Natural remedies postpartum depression

Being a mother is undoubtedly the most extraordinary event of your life. But what if anxiety and depression get the best of you right after experiencing this miracle? It is common to experience mood swings and occasional depression right after giving birth, but when these baby blues do not go away, it might be because of postpartum depression. The symptoms of  PPD can ruin the joy of giving birth and if left untreated, can bring baby and mother into harm’s way. But how do you spot the signs of postpartum depression that are more than just baby blues? Well here we have listed the more obvious symptoms of PPD to look out for, and if you want to treat postpartum depression, then there are natural remedies for postpartum depression that can help and you should try.

Natural Remedies for Postpartum depressionSigns of Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression and anxiety, like all psychological illnesses, are often hard to define and the signs of postpartum depression are really just markers to look out for, rather than clearly identifiable symptoms. According to the American Psychological Association [1], one out of every seven mothers falls a victim to postpartum depression.  Many women experience some or all of the symptoms for a short period but this does not necessarily mean a serious condition has evolved and this commonly referred to as ‘baby blues’. PPD is usually diagnosed if the symptoms of baby blues persist beyond two weeks which is the period in which the body’s hormones should rebalance.

Signs of postpartum depression [2] are:

  1. Feelings of inadequacy or guilt. Many mothers mistakenly believe they may not be up to the task of looking after their baby which is really just a natural reaction when faced with such a daunting task. But this often goes further with PPD. An overwhelming sense of inadequacy and guilt due to this adequacy is often intense with PPD
  2. A lack of bond towards your baby. This sign of postpartum depression is perhaps the most distressing and only compounds the sense of guilt one may be experiencing
  3. Irritable and angry. Mothers often feel resentment to their baby and partners which can often lead to a feeling of confusion and fear as the rational part of your mind cannot understand why you are so hostile to your closest and dearest.
  4. Numbness and emptiness. Small things that give you pleasure no longer have any joy. Mother’s can feel that they are simply existing, going through the motions of living but not actually experiencing life. As a symptom of postpartum depression, this is less explainable than other symptoms. Having a baby is one of life’s most fulfilling events. To feel empty is a sure-fire warning.
  5. Irregular sleeping patterns. New mothers rarely get enough sleep but this sign of postpartum depression is really a form of insomnia. Being unable to sleep in the night between feeds or feeling like the living dead, unable to keep one’s eyes open in the day can be part of PPD, and this sleep profile only exacerbates feelings of anger and irritability.
  6. Irregular eating. Some mothers who suffer from PPD struggle to eat and others will binge eat. If your usual pattern is wayward, it is often a symptom of PPD.
  7. Suicidal thoughts. These feelings are one of the more concrete symptoms of PPD, especially if not experienced before. The thought of self-harm may also extend to thoughts of harming your baby. To a previous healthy mind, such thoughts are deeply distressing, and only go to compound the sense of fear and confusion.

If you have these symptoms, then you must seek medical help as PPD can lead to postpartum psychosis which, if left untreated, could put both the mother and baby in harm’s way. But if you have been diagnosed with postpartum depression – Now what? You certainly don’t need to feel ashamed and embarrassed because it is common for many new mothers to struggle with this issue right after having a newborn.

And as luck would have it, there also are many natural remedies for postpartum depression available to help yourself fight the condition and lift the gloom.

Natural remedies for postpartum depression

  1. Exercise

Exercise has proven beneficial for many women and is a natural remedy for postpartum depression. It can help you overcome it even if you dedicate as low as 90 minutes a week to exercise. Research has confirmed that it can help you get over your depression and take better care of yourself and the baby [3]. Exercise has also proven to be effective in the improvement of your psychological well-being [4]. You can even start with 5 to 10 minutes of bursts to do the trick.

So, lace up your walking shoes and get moving.

  1. Support Groups

Postpartum depression is a mental problem and you can treat it effectually by applying several psychosocial interventions. [5] One of the easiest ways of doing so is to join a support group.

You can seek help from local birth doulas, childbirth educators or midwives to know more about the nearest postpartum depression support group in your locality. If you can’t find a support group, many people get comfort from having family members stay with them, especially ones that have experienced PPD before.

  1. Massage

The long-term effects of massage therapy for treating postpartum depression are yet to be studied; however, researchers are of the view that massaging yourself is a great way to improve your mood and get rid of stress during the postpartum period. [6]

Combining massage sessions with aromatherapy can bear fruit and can be regarded as an exceptional treatment for getting rid of PPD.

  1. Fish diet

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for your heart, but did you know that they can also treat postpartum depression? There is a growing body of clinically supported evidence that mothers who do not consume sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids are more prone to develop PPD. [7] These fatty acids work like antidepressants in your body to get rid of all the clinical symptoms of postpartum depression. [8]

So, treat your taste buds with salmon which has the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in it. Don’t like fish? Try taking flax seeds, walnuts, egg yolks and chia seeds.

  1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese practice for getting rid of tension and anxiety and can be used as a natural remedy for postpartum depression. This technique, with the help of needles, will target specific points on your body to reduce the symptoms of depression. Trying acupuncture can also help to balance your hormones, and to reduce stress. It is a completely safe and easily tolerable therapy for getting rid of postpartum depression. [9]

The treatment efficacy of acupuncture is even higher than that of a relaxing massage, so it can be incorporated into your daily routine for a proficient and rapid cure. [10]

  1. Aromatherapy with Essential Oils

The positive effects of aromatherapy for the treatment of postpartum depression and anxiety have been supported clinically. You can use different essential oils such a sandalwood, ylang-ylang, lavender, jasmine and rose. [11]

You can either find an aromatherapy specialist or you can try experimenting with these oils yourself following this method- dilute either of these oils to form a 1% solution and spray it into the air. You can also use them in your bathwater or rub them directly onto your skin at the back of the neck.

  1. Bright Light Therapy

Bright light therapy sounds like an appealing option for treating postpartum depression. This is because it is a safe and requires light boxes which are easily available in any commercial area.

Research suggests that ultraviolet screen light boxes must be used for 30 minutes in order to make it effective. Remember that these boxes must have 10,000 lux illumination and must be used 10 minutes after waking up. [12]

  1. Breastfeeding

A considerable amount of data depicts that moms who successfully breastfeed their newborns are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression.[13] Not only does it help them overcome this problem, frequent breastfeeding can also help you sleep better at night, making it easier for you to fight PPD.

  1. Carbohydrates

A study suggests that consuming carbohydrates can help in combatting depression. As you consume foods rich in carbohydrates, your brain gets stimulated to increase the production of serotonin. [14] Serotonin is famous for its positive effects on mood and can help you get rid of postpartum depression.

  1. Leafy Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are said to be loaded with important nutrients and minerals. Magnesium and iron are said to be “natural tranquillizers” that can calm down your mood and prevent anxiety attacks; thereby, helping your nervous system to take a break.

Studies have shown that a deficiency of iron in mothers can lead to disturbance in emotions and development of several problems such as postpartum depression. [15] Leafy vegetables will not only cure postpartum depression but also make sure that you do not suffer from insomnia, obsessive compulsive disorder and any other form of anxiety.

So, run to your fridge and grab that bowl of salad.

11. Blueberries

Blueberries are not the most obvious natural remedy for postpartum depression but they have been shown to be clinically helpful in aiding the symptoms of baby blues, the precursor to PPD.

Scientists at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that on the fifth day after giving birth (the period when baby blues is thought to be worse) mother’s that were given a dietary supplement found no adverse change in mood.

The supplements contained extracts from the blueberry which contains several amino acids. These amino acids, such as tryptophan and tyrosine, are thought to compensate the disruption in brain chemistry caused by hormone imbalances due to giving birth.

Mothers that did not take the supplement had a significant increase in their tested score for depression [23]. If you have just had a baby, we would recommend eating blueberries every day even if you show none of the symptoms of postpartum depression. At worst, they are a tasty treat, at best they could cure/prevent the condition.

Do’s

  • Sleep well for at least 8 hours. [16]
  • Surround yourself with positivity and positive people and family members.
  • Avoid spending time alone. Go out and socialize as much as you can. [17]
  • Be active and exercise on a daily basis. [18]

Don’ts

  • Stop thinking negatively. [19]
  • Avoid consuming alcohol as it can trigger depression. [20]
  • Limit your caffeine intake as it can induce anxiety. [21]
  • Do not skip meals. Fight depression by stabilizing your body sugar levels. [22]

2 COMMENTS

  1. Exercise, sun, and tasty, healthy food. I have yet to fully investigate the possibility that a vegetarian diet improves mood, but I know that too much meat can be a problem. Make sure you get enough sleep. Probably the best thing you can do is keep good friends nearby. They can be as good as therapy. Try a new hobby also. Relaxing mama stress reducing tea is very safe and effective and it works faster than most antidepressants.

    • It’s hard to say for sure whether a vegetarian diet improves mood and it would certainly be an interesting research piece. Personally, of all the remedies for PPD, I am most excited by the blueberry research. Very clear evidence that blueberry extract helps correct the brains’ chemistry following the hormonal shock of giving birth.

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