Postpartum Depression Treatment
Many women are affected by feelings of hopelessness and depression after giving birth. There is no single cause for this mood disorder, and treatment requires expert care.
What Are the “Baby Blues?”
It’s natural for mothers to feel unhappiness, sometimes referred to as the “baby blues.” This is a temporary and mild feeling that may last a week or two during periods of difficulty while managing the baby.
Postpartum depression (PPD) may onset before the baby is born and affects the early weeks and months of bonding with the baby. This gives the mother extreme symptoms, getting in the way of caring for herself and the baby.
Postpartum Symptoms & Causes
Mothers with postpartum depression often experience a deep level of despair. They will feel physically exhausted and emotionally burdened while unable to lift themselves from their sadness.
If left untreated, this depression can continue for an extended period of time, possibly the baby’s early childhood. Women may also feel depressed during pregnancy, and early signs of depression should be made aware to a physician.
Despite popular belief, depression and anxiety are very similar disorders. Mothers with postpartum depression and anxiety may feel they are swinging between two extreme moods. These are the most common symptoms of postpartum depression:
• Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
• Feelings of sudden anger or rage
• Feelings of anxiety or difficulty with decision-making
• Feelings of failing to adopt “motherly instincts”
• Self-isolation from friends and family
• Sleeping too little or too much, and out of sync with the baby
• Eating too little or too much
• Difficulty forming an attachment to the baby
• Thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby
Other mothers may experience postpartum infections in the uterine, bladder or kidney. These infections sometimes don’t become apparent until weeks after delivery. Mothers may also experience breast tenderness, backaches, headaches, hair loss, constipation, and pain with intercourse.
Full recovery from delivery can take months, and women with cesareans may also experience pain around the site of the scar for up to six months.
It’s very common for women to feel overwhelmed by the side effects of giving birth, and to fall into postpartum depression.
How to Treat Postpartum Depression
The first step all mothers must take if they are feeling the symptoms of postpartum depression is to seek help.
Postpartum depression is never something to feel ashamed of, and treatment is crucial to the health of both the mother and the baby. Mothers are not at fault for their symptoms and require help in order to feel better. Mothers who are depressed put their children at risk of Reactive Attachment Disorder, a disorder where the child can’t properly form attachment due to emotional neglect.
At this time in a women’s life, some mothers may also find they are genetically predisposed to a disease. The stress of childbirth often affects our bodies to express genes which weren’t previously expressed. In a conversation on “Why Do Mothers Suffer From Depression,” Dr. Amen discusses with his wife, Tana Amen, the significance of women having their thyroid hormones checked. Hashimotos, for example, is an autoimmune disease which primarily affects the thyroid and can have a large influence on swinging between anxiety and depression.
5 Ways to Help Heal Depression in Mothers
1. Exercise and Return to Fun Hobbies
Exercising is a sure way to boost your dopamine, which affects the pleasure centers of the brain. Starting up your favorite hobbies and surrounding yourself with friends and family can help boost your overall stress resilience, and can get yourself and the baby out of the house.
2. Positive Thinking
Positive thinking can be very difficult for women with postpartum depression. Here at Amen Clinics, we often talk about an acronym called ANTS, which stands for “automatic negative thoughts.” Become aware of these thoughts and learn how to correct them with our help.
3. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Dr. Amen also recommends taking omega 3 fatty acids, as they play a role in the central nervous system and have been found to influence depressive disorders.
4. Ketamine Injection Therapy
Ketamine is sometimes used by Amen Clinics to help treat patients with a range of mood disorders, including treatment resistant depression and suicidal thoughts. The drug is a commonly used anesthetic and induces a “window of clarity” for immediate treatment against debilitating negative thoughts.
5. Get Assessed
Depression is not one thing, and treatment depends on what kind of depression you have. Seeking expert help is essential for identifying the root cause of the depression and treating it for lasting results.
Find a Postpartum Depression Clinic
In addition to the physical stress labor, childbirth, and recovery put on women’s bodies, a newborn baby must also be taken care of. For many mothers, occasional sadness is natural to experience, but there is always help for feelings of depression.
Here at Amen Clinics, we help women with postpartum depression and anxiety so that they are capable of caring for themselves and their babies.
We have eight locations across the country in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. We also have locations in Orange County, CA, in Walnut Creek, CA, and in Bellevue, WA.
For more insight, watch the following video from Dr. Amen’s episode of “Why Do Mothers Suffer From Depression,” starting at the 2-min mark.