Holistic Management of Post-Natal Depression
Having a baby is perhaps the most significant life- changing event in a woman. If you just had a baby, you know how difficult it is to adjust to life as a mother. Coping with the stress of a new baby and adjusting to life brings about post-natal depression in many women, especially if they had experienced depression in the past.
Post-natal depression (PND) is a medical term for depression that a woman experiences after the birth of a baby. Statistics reveal that 10 to 20 percent of new mothers all over the world are affected by post-natal depression. Although postpartum depression has been found to be universal, not all cultures or countries recognize it as illness.
Maternal depression can seriously impair mother-infant bonding. There is good evidence that postpartum depression is linked with later problems in children’s cognitive, social and emotional development.
Post-natal depression often starts within a month or two of having your baby, or sometimes, it maybe several months after giving birth that you get PND. A study reported that while most mothers experience periods of depression after the birth of their baby, these periods are of shorter duration and lesser intensity than a major PND. Some studies have found that the symptoms of depression increases as the child grows up.
Now, why do new mothers experience post-natal depression? Scientists have attributed this to hormonal and related biological changes associated with giving birth as well as to the lifestyle changes that you undergo after giving birth. The lifestyle changes for post-natal depression may be:
► Changes in normal daily activities
► Lack of sleep because of caring for the infant
► Change in relationship with your partner
► Change in financial security
► Feeling of distress or guilt because you expected to be happy about having a baby
You’ll probably get better after a few months even without treatment. But the sooner it ends the better it is for you and your family. In case, your PND is mild to moderate, you can opt for holistic management for this condition. But in case of severe PND or PND along with other medical complications, you need to get drug treatment along with holistic treatment suggested by your doctor.
Holistic management of post-natal depression could involve psychological treatment and complementary therapies, use of herbs and supplements, and getting good nutrition.
► Psychological treatment – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy are two effective types of psychotherapy for post-natal depression. Also known as ‘talking therapy’, these therapies can help you change negative thoughts and feelings. Psychological treatment can help you find new ways to live and cope with challenges of having depression.
► Diet and nutrition – As with other forms of depression, post-natal depression is much influenced by diet and nutrition. You must consume a well- balanced diet during and after pregnancy in order to prevent post-natal depression. And even if you have postpartum depression, a balanced diet can help improve depressive symptoms.
► Keep yourself hydrated – drink lots of water, consume lot of milk or juice if you are not that into drinking water.
► Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and nuts. However, a lot of wheat can worsen the depressive symptoms in some women.
► Zinc is a vital nutrient for production of the brain’s neurotransmitters. So remember to include plenty of zinc in your diet. Avocado, blackberries, pomegranate, raspberries, bamboo shoots, corn, peas, pumpkin, French beans, potatoes, most nuts, cheddar cheese, low fat yogurt, eggs, chicken breast, are all good sources of zinc.
► Eat a balanced meal that includes carbs, proteins, good fats, anti-oxidants, and minerals.
► Herbs and supplements for post-natal depression:
► St. John’s wort and Kava are good herbal ‘anti-depressants’, but not much evidence is available regarding their safety for postpartum depression. Breast feeding mothers are advised against using these herbs. Ask your doctor before taking these herbs.
► Ayurvedic practitioners recommend using coconut milk at a dose of 10 ml per day for post-natal depression.
► Herbal teas are good relaxants and stress busters. Combine 2 parts of rosemary herb tea, 2 parts of raspberry leaves, 2 parts of skullcap herb, and 1 part of licorice root and prepare a herbal tea by adding a cup of boiling water. Strain tea and drink two cups every day for two months during post-natal depression.
► Omega-3 dietary supplements are often used as dietary supplements to help reduce post-natal depression. There is evidence that one of the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (popularly known as DHA) may be associated in some way with post-natal depression. Australian researchers found that one percent increase in the plasma DHA was associated with 59 percent reduction in reporting post-natal depression symptoms. However, they cautioned that DHA was negatively influenced by maternal smoking and positively influenced by maternal education.