Postpartum depression, also known as postnatal depression or the baby blues affects some women after they have given birth. The symptoms can include:
- Feeling low and sad for no apparent reason
- Feeling tired most of the time
- Disturbed sleep
- Disinterested in caring for the baby
- Lack of appetite or eating too much
- Feeling worthless and inadequate
- Lack of libido
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Excessive worrying
If severe, the effects can be devastating on mother and baby and indeed the rest of the family, and at a time that is supposed to be joyful.
Having a new baby to care for can be a daunting experience so it is perfectly natural to feel tired and a little anxious. You are suddenly responsible for a new life and along with this there are sleepless nights to deal with, and then your days are taken up caring for the new baby with feeds and nappy changes and routines to settle in to. There's no doubt about it, having a new baby involves a great deal of adjustment in the home and this is inevitably going to be stressful and tiring.
However, the difference between normal feelings of fatigue and worry, and postpartum depression, is that with postpartum depression the symptoms are more severe and they persist.
What causes Postpartum Depression?
There is no single clear cut reason why some women develop postpartum depression and not others but research has shown that nutritional deficiencies can be involved so it's important to make sure that your diet is good before, during and after pregnancy.
One nutrient in particular that has been found to play quite an important role during and after pregnancy is Omega 3. The Omega 3 fatty acids Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are vital during pregnancy and indeed where EPA is concerned each and every one of us need adequate supplies for the whole of our lives whether we are pregnant or not. DHA is needed for healthy growth and development of the brain and eyesight and EPA is needed for efficient functioning of the brain on an ongoing basis.
It stands to reason that if the mother is not getting all the nutrients she needs whilst the baby is taking what little she has, then the mother will find her supplies of nutrients severely depleted.
It's an interesting point that people suffering from depression, and not just postpartum depression but indeed any mental health problem tend to have lower than normal levels of EPA in their blood.
Self help techniques for postpartum depression
- If your diet has been less than adequate it may be worth considering an Omega 3 fish oil supplement, speak to your doctor for more advice
- Get as much rest as you can, try to sleep when baby sleeps
- Try to avoid any extra stresses, this wouldn't be a good time to move house for example
- If you find yourself with a spare moment, indulge. Read a book, watch television, have a relaxing bath, don't spend these precious moments rushing around trying to do chores and be perfect, that little space can be a life saver
- Talk to your family and your care professionals about how you are feeling