Postpartum Depression
The feelings of uneasiness, apprehension or dread which characterize anxiety are part of our body's response to stress. The hormonal changes, emotions and new stresses that accompany postpartum all contribute to what is often called the "postpartum blues." Feelings of anxiety or depression usually develop within twenty-four hours of giving birth. Mood swings that involve feelings of sadness, anger and/or fatigue may continue through the first month after delivery. Other symptoms may include insomnia, compulsive behavior, headaches, digestive disorders and isolation. If depression progresses to include a lack of interest in the baby, suicidal or homicidal thoughts, the intervention of a qualified psychotherapist is required.
Alternative therapies may be a beneficial complement to the conventional treatment plan, you might wish to discuss them with your doctor to determine if they might be helpful for your anxiety and/or mild depression. Many of these natural healing therapies focus on the link between the mind and body and are targeted at stress reduction, calming the mind and restoring inner harmony. The alternative therapies emphasize the body's inherent ability to heal itself which is empowering to the woman suffering from anxiety.

Conventional medicine would become appropriate if the person does not respond to alternative therapies or if the anxiety becomes so severe that the woman is unable to perform activities of daily living. A conventional approach may include psychotherapy and counselling. Common medications prescribed by conventional doctors for anxiety include tranquilizers, anti-depressants or beta-blockers.

Complementary And Alternative Therapies

  • Massage Therapy reduces stress and stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain, which are natural mood enhancers.
  • Aromatherapy offers a variety of essential oils from plants and herbs to promote relaxation and relieve anxiety. A bath scented with 5 or 6 drops of lavender, eucalyptus or lemon balm is helpful in easing tension. These essential oils can also be used in massage or inhaled to calm anxiety. Be sure and check with your physician before using aromatherapy.

Consult a competent specialist in each treatment for individual assessment or additional information. If you are breast-feeding, do not take any medications, supplements or herbs without your physician's approval.

Postpartum depression risk is high for:

  • Women who have had depression after previous pregnancies
  • Women who are prone to bipolar depression
  • Women who have gone off antidepressant medication during pregnancy to protect the fetus from possible harmful effects.