How to Beat Postpartum Depression
It can happen to any of us. It doesn’t matter if you’re a therapist or if you have been around kids your entire life. Postpartum depression is a real thing that many mommies go through.
But did you know that many of us mommies who don’t get to the point of depression still experience postpartum blues? It’s a normal thing, but it still feels awful.
My experience with postpartum depression
I was a therapist before I had my daughter, but that didn’t stop me from experiencing intense postpartum blues. Although I didn’t get to the point of being clinically depressed, there were days when I felt really down and worthless.
One important thing to know about postpartum depression is that it can affect us all differently. For me, it wasn’t so much that I wasn’t bonding with my baby or that I was overwhelmed with mommy-hood. Instead, it was more about how much my relationship with my husband had drastically changed. It was about people suddenly being very opinionated about my life, yet at the same time, I felt like I didn’t matter to anyone. And it was about my body image, something I had already struggled with prior to pregnancy.
These feelings persisted on and off for about a year after my daughter’s birth. What’s interesting, however, is that I was assessed for postpartum depression only once throughout that entire time period. The assessment came from my child’s pediatrician a week after I had my baby, not from my own doctor. And although I felt overwhelmed within those first few weeks after childbirth, I didn’t actually feel depressed until a few months in. So I think it’s safe to say that there needs to be more awareness about postpartum depression. But what is postpartum depression exactly?
Postpartum blues versus depression
Women who have more than just postpartum blues may have a hard time functioning. They might struggle with caring for the baby or for themselves. They may experience intense anger or anxiety, as well as significant changes in eating or sleeping habits (which can be hard to assess because us mommies don’t get much sleep to begin with). In some cases, moms may even have thoughts of hurting themselves or the baby. If you are experiencing any of these things, please seek support from a therapist. You are so worth it, Mommy!
So how do you fight the postpartum blues/depression? Follow these tips! They will take some time and effort. But again, you’re so worth it!
How to beat postpartum depression and the postpartum blues
- Get support
Even if you feel worthless, you are incredible! So please seek support from a therapist, especially if you think you have more than the postpartum blues and are on the verge of depression.
Don’t try to go it alone. Talk to your spouse/partner or whoever will listen (I’ll listen!). For me, talking to my mom and having date nights with my husband was a big help.
- Know your triggers
I started to notice some environmental conditions that preceded my blues. For instance, if I didn’t get enough sleep or ate a bunch of sugar the day before, I noticed that this affected me physically. I felt drained, which felt a lot like depression, so then I would feel depressed.
If you know what triggers your depression, then you can find ways to work around those triggers. It can be hard identifying triggers, so I recommend keeping a journal, even if you only write a couple words per day.
- Change your thoughts
Behind depression, there are often extremely negative, irrational thoughts driving our feelings and behaviors. For example, I thought “Things are never going to be the same with my husband again, and it’s just going to get worse as we have more kids.”
These thoughts are not helpful! So you need to change them! Challenge those thoughts and replace them with better thoughts. Instead, I should say to myself, “Our relationship has changed, but that’s part of the adventures of growing old together. We’ll learn to adjust.”
- Identify coping skills
What sort of things help you feel better when you are feeling sad, depressed, anxious, or angry? Make a list, and use those ideas when you feel depressed. Try to come up with a nice variety of coping skills. For example, identify ideas to use at home versus in public, as well as ideas you can do while the baby is awake versus napping.
- Change your behaviors
Changing your thoughts can be really hard to do, especially if you are a person who is used to thinking negatively. But you can also work on changing your behavior. By changing your behaviors, you realize that you start to feel better, which in turn helps you change your thoughts.
So how do you do this? Use some of those coping skills that you identified above. Plan and schedule things to do throughout your day in order to keep the good feelings going (You can download my FREE WORKBOOK below to help with this). I know… plans go out the window when you become a mom. But take little baby steps. You can plan something as simple as lighting a candle that uplifts you or drinking a cup of tea. For me, diffusing essential oils and having a cup of lavender tea during the baby’s naps helped me to feel as if I was treating myself.
- Prepare yourself
If you know you are susceptible to postpartum depression and are having another baby, do what you can to prepare yourself for the second time around. Your experience and your emotions can vary from one child to another, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
I hope this post was helpful to you. Please share it so that other mommies out there can benefit from it!
Have you experienced the postpartum blues or postpartum depression? If so, what did you do about it?
Disclaimer: Although I was a therapist before I became a stay-at-home mom, I am not your therapist. Reading this post does not enter you into a client-therapist relationship with me. The content in this post is meant to be used as a general guideline. It has not been individually tailored to your needs. If you are in need of therapeutic services, please seek the support of a mental health counselor.
References: My information comes from years of training on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other evidence-based techniques.
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