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10 Best Ways to Treat Postpartum Depression Without Medication
Depression

10 Top Ways to Treat Postpartum Depression Without Medication

If you suffer from postpartum depression, you are not alone.

15-%20 of women who give birth, miscarry, or have a still birth suffer from Postpartum Depression or PPD.

This article offers information and resources that can help you manage postpartum depression more effectively.

Ready? Let’s get started!

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What Is Postpartum Depression?

Often mistaken for “baby blues”, postpartum depression lasts much longer and its symptoms are more intense, they might even interfere with your ability to care for your baby.

“I didn’t know what had happened to me. I was stuck in this gray depression where I just wanted to retreat and pull the covers over my head and weep.” – Margaret Trudeau

What Postpartum Depression Feels Like?

PPB Symptoms

According to Mayo Clinic Women suffering from postpartum depression may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Restlessness
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

 (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018)

How to Manage Postpartum Depression Without Medication?

 There are lots of things that you can do to alleviate symptoms of postpartum depression.

The strategies presented below aims to reduce chronic inflammation and boost your mood.

Research has shown a causal link between inflammatory activation and depression. Treatments for depression also support this immunopsychiatric link. Antidepressants have been shown to decrease inflammation.

Source NBCI-NIH

Postpartum depression can be effectively treated by:

#1. Breastfeeding

If you are not having problems with breastfeeding and if you choose it, breastfeeding is best.

World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that babies are fed only breast milk for the first six months.

Breast milk contains a variety of nutrients, hormones, and growth factors that are vital for early brain development.

But it’s not just babies’ health that benefits from breastfeeding. Research show that for every year a mother breastfeeds, she significantly reduces her risk of developing invasive breast cancer, and heart disease.

Can Postpartum Depression Be Reduced By Breastfeeding?

There has been strong evidence that breastfeeding can protect against postpartum depression and assist in a swifter recovery from symptoms.

#2. Eating A Healthy Balanced Diet

The research on how the foods you consume/gut health can impact your moods are outstanding.

  • Choose fresh, whole foods that are organic, wild caught, and locally grown in season.
  • Add bright-colored fresh fruits and vegetables to your plate, aiming for seven to twelve servings a day.
  • Reduce inflammatory grains, like wheat, rye, and barley and gluten. Gluten is generally a very inflammatory food for most people.
  • Limit processed foods, and added sugars to optimize the gut’s microbiome.

Focus on Foods That Naturally Lower Inflammation

Vegetables: Bok choy, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collard greens, Fennel, Garlic, Kale, Onions, Spinach, Sweet potatoes, Turnip greens,

Fruits: Apples, Avocados, Blackcurrants, Blueberries, Cherries, Cranberries, Kiwi, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Papaya, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Strawberries

Gluten-Free Grains: Buckwheat, Oats, Rice,  Quinoa

Nuts, Seeds, and Oils: Almonds, Brazil nuts, Coconut oil, Extra-virgin olive oil, Flaxseed, Hazelnuts, Sesame oil, Sunflower seeds,

Sices and Herbs: Basil, Cayenne/Chili peppers, Cinnamon, Cocoa (at least 70 percent), Ginger, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Turmeric/curcumin

If you follow a Vegan/vegetarian diet, you may need to supplement for a lack of protein with B vitamins, especially B12, iron, and zinc.

If you are not eating fish, you may need omega-3 supplements.

If you limit or avoid dairy products, you may need vitamins A and D supplements.

#3. Exercise

Physical exercise is the most powerful anti-inflammatory drug.

In fact, research shows that exercises, such as aerobic exercises that get your heart pumping, help your body and brain to overcome depression.

There is no rushing back to the gym.

For the first forty days, aim to gently activate the deep hip and pelvic muscles and connect with postural muscles. (Check out these exercises)

After the first forty days, take it slowly from there. Make sure your exercise is moderate.

Signs of aggressive exercise include difficulty of breathing, feeling extreme strain, or even vomiting. These signs indicate that you are likely producing excessive cortisol.

How Do You Know Your Exercise Is Right?

Moderate exercise is when you achieve a 60 percent exertion, where you can still say a few words as you exercise.

#4. Get Plenty of Sleep—Really

Poor sleep is shown to increase the risk of developing postpartum depression.

Create the right environment to get the sleep you need:

  • Use blackout shades to increase production of melatonin – a hormone that acts on receptors in your body to encourage sleep.
  • Meditate before sleep to relax
  • Minimize screen time especially before sleep
  • Avoid bright lights around bedtime and key naptimes

Read More: 18 Proven, Healthy Ways to Sleep Better at Night and Wake Up Rested


#5. Practice Restorative Breathing

Proper breathing helps calm the nervous system.

Practicing deep breathing activates the vagus nerve, which calms down the stress-inducing response of the fight, flight, freeze that affects the rest of your organs.

The vagus nerve represents the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system, which oversees a vast array of crucial bodily functions, including control of mood, immune response, digestion, and heart rate. It establishes one of the connections between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract and sends information about the state of the inner organs to the brain via afferent fibers.

Source NCBI

The Right Way to Breathe

Through the nose, utilizing the diaphragm – a dome-shaped muscle located toward the bottom of the rib cage.

1. Gently breathe in through your nose and feel your lower ribs expand outward and then come back down and in gently as you exhale.

2. As you exhale, let yourself get to the very end of your exhale, pause for a moment, and take the next inhale.

Apps like Prana Breath, MindShift CBT, Breath Ball, and Health through Breath can help make breathing exercises easier.

#6. Reduce Stress

When we are stressed, we produce the hormone cortisol – a hormone that is linked directly to the body’s fight, flight, or freeze response.

If the stressful event is short-lived, your body recovers and rests again and nothing detrimental happens.

But when you have chronic stress, the high levels of cortisol will impact your digestion and prevent you from getting proper sleep.

1. Do Something That You Enjoy

The antidote is to choose something you enjoy so that your brain creates “feel-good” hormones like dopamine and oxytocin, which naturally helps calm the mind so that you can relax.

The following are some ideas:

  • Express love to your partner and baby
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Read a book you love
  • Watch a movie you like
  • Spend time with close friends
  • Declutter your space to create a calm environment
  • Spend time outdoors in nature
  • Meditate
  • Get a massage
  • Laughter

2. Avoid Stressors

Reducing stress is not just about the things you need to start doing. It is also about quitting the things that increases your stress.

  • Stop hanging around toxic people and focus on the friends and family who shower you with love.
  • Stop doing things you don’t like to do. This might not sound simple, but we often do things we really don’t have to do in order to please others or because we feel obligated.
  • Money can be a source of stress. While you don’t have to be rich to live stress-free, you do need to feel financially safe. Try to get your finances in order and come up with a plan that you are comfortable with so you can feel more assured.
  • Reduce your exposure to social media and choose influencers and websites that actually make you happy.

Read More: Definitive Guide to Relieve Stress Instantly and Lead a Peaceful Life


3. Decrease Relationship Stress

Especially with your spouse or significant other.


Read More: Resolving Marital Conflict: How to Repair Your Marriage


10 Ways to reduce your stress

#7. Reduce Your Toxic Load

Toxic chemicals are everywhere. We are inhaling them, swallowing them, and even absorbing them through our skin.

Some chemicals are quickly processed out of the body, while others cannot be automatically removed and might settle in our blood, fat tissue, brain tissues, and other organs.

Removing dangerous chemicals will help reduce inflammation.

  • Choose  organic  produce,  grains,  meats,  poultry,  and  fish whenever  possible. 
  • Avoid storing food, especially warm food or liquids, in aluminum or plastic (they are toxins that can leach into foods). Instead, use reusable stainless steel or glass containers to store food.
  • When cooking, avoid chemically treated, Teflon nonstick pots and pans.
  • Use organic cleaning products to clean around the house like vinegar-based ones that you can make yourself. Find alternatives on the Environmental Working Group site for product recommendations.
  • Improve indoor air quality by opening windows (for as little as twenty minutes) and using fans and house plants.
  • Check your home for mold. A musty, damp smell can be an indication of mold problem, but ERMI testing is the gold standard for identifying a mold problem. (Check out these tips on how to remove mold from your house)
  • Switch for natural, organic personal-care products. Perfume can be replaced by essential oils.

DIY Home and Garden

Make an all-purpose cleaner that can safely be used everywhere in your home/office/car. In a glass spray bottle, mix:

  • 1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon organic dishwashing soap
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 10 drops of essential oil

Read More: Natural Living: The Beginner Guide to Non-Toxic Living


#8. Boost Your Body’s Internal Detox Abilities

Help your body’s detoxification pathways remove toxins using the following tips:

  • Dry brush your skin to gently detoxify the skin and lymphatic system.
  • Use humidifiers and saline sprays to keep the nose clear and lubricated so that it can filter toxins as you breathe.
  • Drink lots of clean water to assist the kidneys and your digestive system to work optimally.

#9. Consider Your Oral Microbiome

Dental issues like multiple root canals or cavities can be an indicator of an unhealthy oral microbiome, which impacts your gut flora and can be a significant source of chronic inflammation.

Make sure you brush your teeth with non-fluorinated toothpaste and floss twice daily.

#10. Set Reasonable Expectations for Recovery

Recovering after giving birth will vary depending on a number of factor: the type of delivery that you had, how many years it has been since the last time you gave birth, how big the baby was, etc.

Some of the top changes you may experience, that your body may have a hard time regulating, are:

  • A surge of new hormones, like prolactin – a hormone responsible for breast milk production.
  • A decline in the hormones that increased during pregnancy, such as estrogen and progesterone, which may lead to hair loss, vaginal dryness, and depressed mood.
  • Hormones imbalance, especially your thyroid hormones and cortisol because of the great deal of physical stress and sleep deprivation you’ve been through.

The best way to regulate these imbalances is rest.

Staying relaxed and not having high expectations early will reduce your stress and increase your chances of returning to pre-baby or even better than pre-baby shape.

10-Tips-to-Manage-Postpartum-Depression

 FAQ

What’s The Difference between “baby blues” and “postpartum depression”?

“Baby blues” is a feeling of sadness, fatigue, and anxiety that affects up to 80% of women. These baby blues usually last from 3 to 5 days.

Postpartum depression, on the other hand, lasts much longer and its symptoms are much more intense that “baby blues”.

How long does postpartum depression last?

According to a 2014 review of clinical studies, Women usually experience postpartum depression  within the first 3 months after giving birth.

According to the same review, it can remain a long term problem for some women, especially when left unaddressed.

When Is It Time To See A Doctor?

When left unaddressed, postpartum depression’s symptoms can last longer and worsen.

If these symptoms do not dissipate in two weeks, get worse, or hinder you from completing daily tasks, it is time to seek professional help.


Talk to a therapist anytime, anywhere

Find a therapist from Online-therapy.com’s network for your depression symptoms. Your personal therapist will be by your side – from start to finish. Guiding you to a happier you through the sections, worksheets, messaging at any time and live sessions (available as video, voice only or text chat).

Plans start at $31,96 per week + 20% off your first month.


How to Deal With Thoughts of Self Harm?

If you are experiencing thoughts of self harm or harming your baby it is time to seek help from your loved ones or close friends/family, or even calling 911 and they will talk you through the options.

Where To Go For Postpartum Depression?

Here are some more options:

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
  • Reach out to your mental health specialist or consult with your insurance company to help you locate a provider that takes your insurance in your area.
  • Reach out to PPD support groups.

Postpartum Depression Is Real

“There is a lot of misunderstanding, and I feel like there’s a lot of people out there who think that it’s not real, that it’s not true, that it is something that is made up in their mind… It’s something that’s completely uncontrollable, and it’s really painful, and it’s really scary, and women need a lot of support.” 

– Hayden Panettiere 

Talk to a therapist anytime, anywhere

Find a therapist from Online-therapy.com’s network for your depression symptoms. Your personal therapist will be by your side – from start to finish. Guiding you to a happier you through the sections, worksheets, messaging at any time and live sessions (available as video, voice only or text chat).

Plans start at $31,96 per week + 20% off your first month.

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10 Best Ways to Treat Postpartum Depression Without Medication

References

  • Portions of this article were adapted from the book The Wise Woman’s Guide to Your Healthiest Pregnancy and Birth: From Preconception to Postpartum, © 2021 by Patricia Ladis. All rights reserved.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff
  • National Institutes of Health

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