Are you curious about postpartum depression treatment and natural options you have? Here are ways to combat postpartum depression on your own.
Let me start by saying that I am NOT a doctor.
But you knew that by searching, “postpartum depression treatment,” online that you’d have to use your best judgement when deciding what advice to take, right?
What you were really looking for was probably not just information about what postpartum depression treatment is available, but the experiences that other moms have had.
Am I right?
I know that when I Google something, I am most interested in the experiences that other people have. That’s because I’m strangely encouraged just knowing that I’m not alone.
Today I am going to tell you about postpartum depression treatment, but only after telling you my story.
My Postpartum Depression Treatment & Story
So let’s just say that I am pretty good at postpartum depression by now. LOL.
Guys, that’s not even something that’s funny but I am trying to hopefully make a scary topic a little less so.
So let’s see…I have a SUPER long history of depression.
I saw my first therapist at the age of 12 or 13, and I started my first anti-depressants at 15.
Then there’s the fact that I come from a long line of mentally unstable peeps.
So it was almost inevitable that when I went to have my first child, I’d experience some pretty bad PPD.
Now, know that you can have ZERO history of depression or mental health issues in your family and still experience Postpartum Depression and similar mental health issues after having a baby. (Think Postpartum Anxiety, Post-Weaning Depression, etc. Yes, these are real things.)
Alright, so the short version of my story is like this…
I had a baby at the “young” age of 22.
I decided to stay home with baby.
Then I never saw my friends or family or career again.
But that’s how it felt.
I spent about 3 years postpartum with baby #1 as a sad little hermit at home.
I didn’t seek postpartum depression treatment until my daughter was almost 2.
Now, arguably, postpartum depression that has been that long and drawn out could potentially just be considered major depression. I don’t know where the line is.
Anyway, a lot of things happened for me after I became a mom. Looking back, I think a lot of it was how young and isolated I was.
I was the first of my friends and family to get married and have a baby. While everyone else was getting drunk every weekend with friends and doing college or career stuff, I was at home.
And sad to say, but no one wanted to hang around me and the baby. Buzzkill, amiright? And no one really helped me with the baby either.
So the point of sharing this sadness is that I think that being in such a different place in life than those around me was lonely. I had no one to relate to in mommyhood.
What Postpartum Depression Looked Like For Me
Physically, I lost all of my baby weight right after having my daughter. But as depression crept up around the 6 month mark, I started getting lazy and eating my feelings. No joke. I went from a healthy 130 pounds to a high of 174 pounds by the time my daughter was about two. I’m 5’3″ guys. I felt tired all of the time, and I didn’t have the willpower to do much.
Emotionally, I was really sad or mad allll of the time. I was so upset with everyone around me, but it stemmed from my own hate. I hated myself. There was the fact that motherhood was nothing that I expected it to be. It was lonely, and I sucked at everything I assumed I’d be good at (ahem, breastfeeding).
It was just so much guilt and self-sabotage every single day.
And I just didn’t know how to get out of it.
I finally went to see my doc after almost two years of shitty everything.
And to be honest, I realllly had to get over my pride to do it. I felt like getting medication meant that I couldn’t handle being a mom. Like I couldn’t just do it myself.
Truth is that no one should have to do it completely alone and I basically was.
Anyway, I went to my doctor and told her everything.
I told her about how I wanted to drive off a cliff sometimes.
Then I told her how I wanted to go to sleep and not wake up.
Last, I told her about how I just felt the urge to throw stuff all of the time. (And I did, ask my husband.)
Not All Antidepressants Work
So I started an antidepressant. I think this one was Lexapro. It works for most people. But it made me sleepy and lethargic. Even though my mind felt clearer, and my emotions felt a little more stable, I couldn’t get anything done around the house. I was almost worse of a parent.
I went back to my doctor and she gave me the infamous Prozac.
And that worked.
I don’t mean that I was magically cured, but I felt functional again. Mentally and emotionally I was steadier, clearer.
And that’s what I needed to get my shit together again.
Now, I still didn’t like relying on medication to get through the day.
And if you know about antidepressants, you can kind of get addicted to them. Your body gets used to them and eventually it wants a bigger dose (like coffee) or it stops reacting to the medication.
Knowing this, I knew that I had to find a way to get off of the medications, eventually.
So I started researching natural postpartum depression treatment.
And I started trying different things to see what would work.
Now… I have to say this real quick.
Your postpartum depression treatment plan could look VERY different than mine.
I personally kept my Prozac to the minimal dose because I fully believed that I could live without it.
I have always believed that most people can make serious lifestyle changes that will HEAL their mental health issues. Even as someone who has been dealing with depression forever.
In fact, this whole website and why I became a personal trainer have everything to do with my belief that food & exercise are the best medicine.
Whatever you believe, I’m not here to argue about it. But I am here to hopefully give you some options to try before you condemn yourself to a live of self-medication.
I knew I had to change my body (inside and out) in order to kick my depression to the curb.
So – to recap – my postpartum depression treatment plan was twofold. It went like this:
- Get on some antidepressants to clear my head and regain some confidence/get my bearings.
- Figure out how to cope with my depression/keep it at bay NATURALLY.
Your postpartum depression treatment might be similar, or you may choose to continue using the drugs longer than me. Again, I’m just here to make suggestions based on my experiences, but it’s always your decision.
But I want to ask you a serious question before we move onto my natural treatment suggestions. And you have to be honest with yourself when you ask it. Ready?
Is self-pity part of what makes you depressed?
Gosh. It’s a tough question and I feel bitchy asking it.
But I ask it because after several years of personal reflection and development, I realize that I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself.
I had a lot of the, “Why me?” type of self-pity and I allowed depression to be the result.
Sometimes we let that stuff define us and it gets worse.
I know a lot of people don’t think that depression can be helped by anything but medicine, but for me it required an overhaul of the mind.
I had to get rid of what my idea of what my life was supposed to be (but wasn’t) and MOVE ON.
Plus, I had to stop focusing on the things that I wasn’t and make the choice to make something of myself.
I also had to choose to be happy daily and I had to choose to be in control daily.
Furthermore, I had to be self-aware of my own negative thoughts and anything else that could be holding me back.
Hmmm. Just something to think about. Back to postpartum depression treatment.
Postpartum Depression Treatment | Natural Ways to Fight Back
My favorite postpartum depression treatment, hands down. If you haven’t been to the site before, you might not know that I am also a certified personal trainer. I became a personal trainer specifically to work with pregnant and postpartum women. After many years of being a yo-yo dieter and inconsistent exerciser, I have learned how incredibly powerful one good workout is for me. I believe it can be powerful for others.
I am mentally, emotionally, and physically a better human being on the days where I exercise. Becoming a personal trainer was just one way for me to help other women combat postpartum depression while holding myself accountable for regular exercise.
My second biggest tip is that if you can make exercise a social thing, it’s going to have an even greater impact. You’re more likely to stick with it and it leads to my next point…
On Exercise: 5 Reasons Moms Need Fitness
Being alone all of the time (even if you’re never alone, aka a parent) is not healthy for someone experiencing depression of any kind. If you are homebound most days, it can be really harmful. You need to get out of the house as part of your postpartum depression treatment plan. Seriously.
When I began to hit the gym regularly after becoming a mom, I realized that while the exercise itself was important, there was a lot more to it.
I needed to see other adults, smile and say hello, or maybe make a little small talk. Also, I needed to see other moms prioritizing health and towing their babies to the gym. I needed those little things to make me feel a little more human and remind me that before becoming a mom, I was also a friend and social human being.
Get out of the house, even if you don’t go out with big plans to make new mom friends. Go to the library, the gym, heck, even the grocery store. Try it just once and see how it changes your day. It’s important!
It takes quite some time to get into a good routine when you’re a new mom. Especially because there are so many books and resources telling you how you should do things. Plus, babies change so much that they need new things all the time.
But having a little structure for yourself and your child goes a long way as far as postpartum depression treament. I don’t recommend having rigid schedules. This will just set you up for disappointment, because you will quickly learn that babies don’t stick to schedules. However, doing things in a similar fashion, at similar intervals throughout the day, can help everyone in your family.
Helping yourself and your children know what to expect is a great way to ease your mind and get some rest. For example, with this last baby, I have made sure to stick to a pretty general routine of wake, eat, play, sleep. While we don’t have specific times that we do this (expect for bedtime, which is consistently between the hours of 8-9PM), my baby goes down without a fight every time.
That means that I can expect my baby to nap after being awake for about two hours, and I can expect at least a few hours of rest beginning by 9PM consistently.
This is mentally and physically very important.
Get yourself into some sort of routine with the things that are important to you – cleaning, resting, eating, etc. – and it will do wonders for you.
This is a supplement that I just discovered recently in my research on postpartum depression treatment and the treatment of other mood-altering disorders. (I will say that it’s not recommended if you are nursing, so definitely check with your doctor on this one.)
After many years of trying medications, I have become an advocate for natural healing. There are many healing herbs and supplements out there. Rhodiola is known for normalizing cortisol production and leveling hormones, therefore affecting mood in a positive way. I just bought some because it’s definitely worth a try.
It is easier said than done when you become a new mom, but you should still be spending time taking care of yourself in ways you used to. My doctor actually recommended this as part of my postpartum depression treatment plan, alongside the Prozac.
The first month after having a new baby is pretty much a free-for-all of survival, so don’t worry about anything but trusting your instincts during this time.
Once you feel like you know your baby and have spent some time healing, however, you should get back to whatever you were doing for self-care before. I made the mistake of abandoning much of what I did as far as self-care when I had my first baby because I thought it made me selfish.
That’s just silly.
If all you do is put mascara on or take a long hot shower, that might be enough. But make sure that you do something for yourself every day. Get out of you PJs, put some lipstick on, take a spa day – whatever. It will do wonders for your self-esteem and remind you that you are not in fact an alien under cover as a hot-mess mom.
Doing something nice for another human or cause is a great thing to add to your postpartum depression treatment plan. Yes, you can help other people in a selfish way. 😉 For me, feel-good endorphins and the “warm-fuzzies” are involved when I help others. But on top of that, volunteering can help you feel important again, especially if you have transitioned to being a stay-at-home-mom.
I personally struggled with purpose after being a SAHM, but now I am able to lend a helping hand because of it. I have time to support others and it makes me feel like I’m doing more than changing dirty diapers and washing dishes all day.
Try volunteering for something and see how it makes you feel. Or just help a family member in need. Just don’t over-commit and overwhelm yourself.
There are times when you just need to distract yourself from your own life and thoughts. It’s just a temporary fix, but sometimes we need those short-term things to get us through.
So watch a funny movie, download that addicting game on your smartphone, or do a little retail therapy. As time goes on, you’ll get more rest, the sun will start shining, and you’ll be able to focus on other things. But if you’re finding yourself in really negative thoughts, distracting yourself temporarily can help to give you a small mental break.
Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, abandon your hobbies after becoming a mom. Like I said before, I thought that it made me selfish to do things for myself after becoming a mom. Sure, my baby needed me a LOT. But more importantly, my baby needed a happy, competent me. By abandoning everything I’d once done, I was crabbier and did things with resentment. DON’T BE ME.
It will be harder to do many of your hobbies after having a baby, but there are ways! Find some way to involve baby or let someone you trust babysit so you can enjoy things.
My tip: start with little things like crafts, DIY, writing, gardening, or other things that can be done in short bouts of time. Then as baby gets older, you can go on those weekend hiking trips or wine tasting tours.
Perhaps this should have been #1 on the list, because it’s important for everyone. (I even wrote a post about how self-awareness affects weight loss.) If you want to truly combat postpartum depression, you need to be self-aware. You need to learn your habits and learn what’s effective in changing your mood and self-esteem. For example, I learned that daily exercise was important for me. I also learned that I have cycles of depression and I can now tell when I am going to slip into a depressive state before it even happens.
Also, knowing that I had pretty bad PPD with my first baby, I was able to remain self-aware when I had this last one. I was able to go back to my tool-box and feel a lot more capable this time. I’d say that’s thanks to my own self-awareness.
The takeaway: Reflect on your own behavioral patterns and be honest with yourself.
10. Blogging or Journaling
This has become super important for me. I have always been a writer, but blogging has brought me new challenges and adventures. I found out that you can make money blogging after becoming a SAHM and searching for ways to supplement my family’s income from home. It’s been intellectually challenging to learn something new, but I have also used my blogs for venting and making money.
Blogging isn’t for everyone, so at the very least, I recommend journaling occasionally. It will help you reflect, but if nothing else, it will help you vent your feelings somehow. This is especially important if you feel that you don’t have anyone to talk to or anyone who can relate to you. Try it!
I hope this post gives you an idea of various options you have for postpartum depression treatment.
Do you have any other things you’d like to share? Drop a comment below!