The appearance of a child in your life is associated with certain difficulties, no matter how much you love your baby. “Postpartum melancholia” which occurs immediately after childbirth is a relatively normal condition. But if the melancholia worsens or lasts longer than a couple of weeks it may be a signal that you have postpartum depression. Because of depression and anxiety you may have negative thoughts and feelings that affect you and your child. Learn about the ways to overcome these negative thoughts and emotions and how a healthy lifestyle contributes to it.
How to get back to being happy
1. Do not try to be a supermom. Remind yourself that you are just a human and you can not cope with everything. However, you can still be an excellent loving mom. Do not reproach yourself and do not feel guilty if you made a mistake – nobody’s perfect.
If you feel guilty or upset because of a mistake you made, remind yourself of those good things that have recently happened to you. Think about something positive that will help you fight the feelings of depression and anxiety.
2. Stick to a balanced diet. Once you have given birth to a baby, it is important that your diet is balanced and nutritious. Talk to your doctor about the deficiency of vitamins and minerals that you can have. Try to include the following foods to balance your diet:
- Protein products with low fat content.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Low-fat dairy products.
- Complex carbohydrates.
- Unsaturated fats.
3. Exercise at least three times a week. It is important to increase the intensity of physical exercises gradually and not to push too hard. Exercises do not have to be difficult – a half an hour walk with the child would be enough.
Work out at least three times a week because during training the body produces endorphins that help you feel happy and relieve you of stress.
4. Try breathing exercises if you feel anxious. Every time you feel that panic or anxiety is creeping up, drink water, sit down and concentrate on your breathing. Get rid of all thoughts and just focus on your breathing, on inhaling and exhaling. You can try these breathing exercises:
Inhale slowly for 10 seconds, hold your breath for a while, and then exhale slowly for another 10 seconds. Repeat until you feel calmer.
5. Rest as often as it is possible. Suffering from postnatal anxiety and depression, you may have difficulty sleeping, especially if the child wakes up during the night. Despite these difficulties, it is important to try to sleep at least eight hours during the night and day. Sufficient rest is very important in the fight against postpartum depression.
6. Spend time in the sun. When vitamin D levels become below normal, depression and anxiety can occur more likely, so it is recommended to get the required amount of vitamin D daily. One of the most effective ways is to spend time outdoors in the sun. Your body produces vitamin D when sunlight is absorbed through the skin.
Go for a walk in good weather. Spend some time in the garden or take a walk with the baby (but make sure that the child is protected from direct sunlight).
How to deal with negative emotions
1. Share your feelings with someone you trust. If you hide your feelings instead of sharing them with someone, then your condition can only get worse. Therefore, you need to talk with someone about the way you feel. Discussing your feelings will help you analyze them. Take time to talk with:
- Your spouse. It is essential to tell your partner about what you are experiencing, so that they can help you as much as possible.
- A member of the family who also gave birth to a child.
- A close friend who will not judge you.
- A psychotherapist. If you think that communication with family or friends will not bring you relief, then you need to make an appointment with a psychotherapist. If you do not know who to contact, ask your friends.
2. Start a diary of emotions. Keeping such a diary will help you realize that your emotions are fleeting, not permanent. Write down feelings of anxiety, sadness, anger or some other emotions as well as the details that are associated with them. Thus you can track the reasons for anxiety or depression and that will help you overcome these emotions in future. Take notes of:
- The emotions you feel.
- Estimate the intensity of the emotion on a scale from 0% to 100%.
- Causes of the emotion.
- Your reaction to this emotion.
- Ideas of how you would like to react in future.
3. Join a support group. Sometimes when you are with women who are experiencing the same thing, you can use their experience to understand your own condition. Women in support groups who have already had postpartum depression and anxiety can share their experiences with those who are currently suffering from it.
Talk to your doctor about the support groups in your area.
4. Find time to do things that bring pleasure and joy. The time you spend on yourself and simple pleasures helps to distract you from negative thoughts and feelings. Do something relaxing outside the house and think over your emotions, life, and health. Think about things that you can be grateful for.
Do enjoyable things like walking or planting flowers. Keep these positive emotions and bring them back to mind when you feel depressed and anxious.
5. Do not to isolate yourself. It may seem that you only want to stay away from your child, spouse, friends, and family but you need to overcome these feelings. Isolation will not only exacerbate your condition but may also worsen physical health. The time spent with other people will help you better understand yourself.
6. Realize that you are an amazing mother. Although because of depression and anxiety you can feel as if you are not the best mom, you need to overcome these thoughts. Remind yourself that you have given birth to a beautiful baby you love and care about.
Stick the notes on the mirror in the bathroom or next to the bed, which will serve as a reminder that you are an excellent mother.
If you have negative emotions in the middle of the night when you need to calm the awakened baby, try to think: “I am a great mom who at 2 o’clock in the morning cradles her baby and sings a lullaby to them.”
Disputing Negative Thoughts
1. Recognize your negative thoughts. The root of postpartum depression and anxiety is negative thoughts. If such unhealthy thoughts appear in your mind they can become familiar. To overcome your postnatal condition, you must first overcome these negative thoughts. To do this you need to recognize them. There are different kinds of negative thoughts. In the case of postpartum depression, these are the most common ones:
- Zero-sum thinking means that if the result of your efforts does not reach perfection you can consider that this is a complete failure.
- Overgeneralization means pointing out only negative events in the form of a series of endless failures.
- Mental filtering means focusing on negative details.
- Disqualifying the positive means ignoring any positive experiences as if they never happened.
- Emotional argumentation means believing that negative emotions you are experiencing reflect reality, although it may not be so.
- The statement “should” arises on the basis of guilt; you feel that you should have done something but failed.
- Personalization is when you mistakenly see yourself as the cause of an event which in fact was beyond your control.
2. Make a list of your negative thoughts. This will allow you to look at negative thoughts in perspective. Keep a piece of paper in handy and when you realize that you start to think negatively, put down your thoughts and also the causes of such thoughts. For instance:
If you caught yourself thinking “I’m doing everything wrong, so my child does not stop crying” write it down on a sheet of paper. You also need to write down what caused these reflections, for example, “the sleeping child woke up and suddenly started screaming”.
3. Pay attention to the facts proving the incorrectness of your negative thoughts. Sometimes we miss something because we are too focused on our thoughts. This applies to postpartum depression and anxiety too. Try to think about positive aspects of maternity and your current achievements. For example:
If you think that everything goes wrong you’d better think about something important like “I gave birth to a beautiful child” or something less significant “This morning I successfully fed the baby.”
4. Talk to yourself in a compassionate manner, as if talking to a friend. Instead of judging yourself in a harsh manner, talk to yourself as if to a good friend. You would not tell your friend that they are doing everything wrong; you would praise them and focus on their positive achievements, showing kindness. In the same way you must treat yourself if you want to get rid of postpartum depression.
5. Consider other factors that may have caused you negative thoughts to appear. Instead of blaming yourself for all problems, consider other factors that may affect the situation. Thus, you will understand that you are not responsible for all the failures that occur in your life. For instance:
If your child wakes up in the middle of the night, do not think that “I’m a bad mother because I cannot get my baby to sleep through the night.” Instead, think about the possible reasons why the child is awake. Is they hungry? Were they awakened by a loud sound?
It is not your fault that the child has woken up, but you should lull them again to find out the reason for their awakening.
Therapy and medical advice
1. Talk to a specialist about what you are experiencing. Sometimes it is not enough to talk with friends and family, start a diary of emotions and reflections, and change your way of life. In this case, you need to think about asking for help of a professional.
A psychotherapist will help you understand your emotions and also help you plan how to deal with depression and anxiety.
A marriage counselor will help you get the support you need. Sometimes postpartum depression and anxiety can be a result of the fact that you do not feel support of your companion.
2. Discuss hormonal therapy with the doctor. After childbirth, the endocrine profile undergoes severe changes. Sometimes hormone therapy helps to balance the level of hormones, especially estrogen. Nevertheless, there may be some complications, so you need to discuss this method of treatment in detail with your doctor.
Estrogen hormone therapy can be used in combination with antidepressants.
3. Take antidepressants if depression and anxiety worsen. If you realize that you can not take care of yourself or your child, it is extremely important to seek medical help. One of the possible treatment options that the doctor can offer is the use of antidepressants.
The use of antidepressants should be accompanied by psychotherapy sessions so that you receive the help you need.
Let others help you. Adapting to the role of a mother may not be easy, so accept help from family members and friends.
A Note Of Warning
If you ever have an idea of harming yourself, your baby, or someone else, you should immediately call for help.