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A Prescription for Healthy Living

There is nothing more thrilling than holding your newborn baby for the first time after sharing your living space with him or her for nine plus months. Unfortunately, for some women that initial feeling of euphoria can turn to tears in five minutes flat as pregnancy hormones decrease, and now your body has to adjust to not being pregnant anymore. This period of time known as postpartum can be challenging as there is no rhyme or reason to the highs and lows your emotions will go through as your body returns to its pre-pregnancy state. In this article we will take a look at some of the more common symptoms associated with postpartum depression, as well as the different treatment available. Before we go any further, however, it is important to begin by mentioning that postpartum depression is very normal and most women experience some degree of depressive symptoms for the first few weeks flowing childbirth. Experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression does not mean you do not love your baby. Postpartum depression is nothing more than a season in life and while it can be troubling to experience, there is help and the condition can be resolved.

There are a number of symptoms associated with postpartum depression. These symptoms include but are not limited to the following:

• Generalized feelings of sadness
• Crying
• Restlessness and irritability
• No interest in living
• No appetite
• Lack of energy or motivation
• Problems falling asleep and staying asleep, or sleeping more than usual
• Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and/or guilt
• Unexplained weight loss and/or gain
• Showing little to no interest in your baby
• Feeling like your life has no meaning or purpose

Contact your doctor if you experience persistent symptoms associated with the birth of your child not mentioned in the above list.

Although many women become depressed immediately following the birth of their baby, some women do not notice their symptoms of depression until weeks later. Depression that begins within six months of delivery is typically considered postpartum depression.

In rare cases, postpartum depression can morph into a more serious condition called postpartum psychosis in which thoughts of hurting yourself or the baby are added to the list of possible postpartum depression symptoms. Contact your doctor immediately if you develop these rare but serious symptoms of postpartum psychosis.

Women who are prone to developing postpartum depression are more likely to have had any one or more of the following conditions:

• Postpartum depression related to a prior pregnancy
• Depression not related to pregnancy/childbirth
• Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
• A difficult or stressful marriage or relationship
• Not having very many family members or friends to rely upon for support
• A series of stressful events during and after birth

The degree to which a woman is afflicted with postpartum depression can vary. Some women may experience a short bout of depression that resolves after only a few weeks while others do not feel themselves for months after delivery. Women who develop more severe symptoms of depression, or who have dealt with prior episodes of depression, may take longer to feel better, but relief will come.

Treatment for Postpartum Depression

The treatment options available for postpartum depression are relatively the same ones used to treat generalized forms of depression. Finding a support group of women who are all battling the same issue may be a good place to start. The knowledge that you are not the only one to have ever experienced these feelings of depression can be very therapeutic. One on one counseling and prescription medication are also available and effective options to help you get back to feeling like yourself again. Speak with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.

There are certain things you can do for yourself that may help you begin to feel better:
• Talk to a friend or family member about how you are feeling.
• Find people who can help watch your children, perform household chores and run errands. You may feel quite relieved knowing you do not have to handle everything by yourself.
• Carve out some time in your day to do something for yourself–even if its 15 minutes a day. Use this time to read, walk, take a relaxing bath, or meditate.
• Keep a daily journal or diary of your feelings. Use pen and paper as an outlet for your worries, frustrations and fear of being a new mom. When you start feeling better you can look back and reread your journal entries to see how far you have come.
• Do not be discouraged on the days you can only get one task accomplished; there may be days that nothing gets done, and that is okay.
• It is okay to feel overwhelmed. Childbirth brings about many changes and parenting comes with its own set of challenges. These changes may seem like much to cope with when you are not feeling like yourself.
• No one expects you to be a super mom. Accept your limitations and ask other people to pitch in where needed.
• Ask your doctor for referral to an area support group.

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