Naturopathic Treatments for Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a type of clinical depression which affects people who have recently given birth. It is estimated that 10-20% of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression within one year after giving birth. 1 Working with a naturopathic doctor to create a treatment plan during pregnancy and post-childbirth may help mitigate some of the known causes of postpartum depression. In addition to following a naturopathic doctor’s individualized treatment plan, the following steps may serve to help those suffering from postpartum depression. If you or someone you know is a risk to themselves or others, contact your physician, text “HOME” to the National Crisis Textline at 741741 about any type of crisis at any time, or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ for more resources.
Lack of sleep often contributes to or can exacerbate postpartum depression 2 Obviously, new parents cannot avoid some sleep disturbance with a new baby in the home, but taking measures to sleep deeply when possible by sticking to a nighttime routine and avoiding screens for at least an hour before bed promotes better, more consistent sleep. It is also a good idea to sneak in naps whenever possible–such as when a partner or family member is watching the baby.
Low levels of vitamin D contribute to postpartum depression. 3 Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel. 4 You can also absorb vitamin D by spending more time in the sun (always remember to do so safely) or take a vitamin D supplement.
Physical activity produces endorphins, which help to boost mood. After going through pregnancy and labor, the body needs time to recover, so very intense physical activity is not recommended right away. However, gentler exercises like yoga, walking, and light aerobics can be highly beneficial to prevent or decrease symptoms of postpartum depression. 5
No doubt that a new family member and the circumstances around bringing a new life in the world can add stressors to the family balance. It is important to seek help whenever possible to lighten the burden, and try to take time to nurture your own mental health needs. Time is at a premium for new parents and some simple mindfulness techniques can be done even while caring for your newborn.
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