Overview Of Condition
Postpartum Depression Guide
Treating Your Symptoms Naturally
If you are suffering from postpartum depression, you may want to consider natural therapies as an alternative treatment. They are usually less expensive than conventional treatment for postpartum depression (PPD) and are less likely to harm you or have side effects. However it is still recommended that you get a thorough evaluation (see postpartum depression diagnosis) and work with a therapist who is knowledgeable about PPD and who can keep an eye on your progress. Alternative therapies have been growing in popularity since the 1970s, in fact recent statistics show that 35 percent of Americans have used at least one form of natural treatment in the last year. The foundation of natural therapy is based on the principal that disease is a dis-ease (imbalance) within the body. Restoring this balance or 'unease', will restore good health.
The following is a list of alternative medicines (also referred to as holistic, complementary and integrative medicine) which are specifically helpful in treating PPD:
We are surrounded by a mass of energy emitted from the cells in our body. While we may not see this energy, it can be felt (try holding your hand over the crown of your head and feel the heat being emitted). If we are ill (physically or mentally) our energy field is depleted. Restoring balance to this field is the basis for most energy healing therapies. There are several methods for doing this, the most popular being:
Reiki: This is a Japanese healing system. It helps to clear the energy channels in your body so that energy can flow more freely, stimulating the body to heal itself. The patient lies on a bed, remaining fully clothed while the healer passes their hands up and down their body (but not touching the body). Many people report feeling less anxious and stressed after a Reiki session. Do be sure to checkout books on depression for more self-help advice.
Polarity Therapy: A mixture of osteopathy, chiropractic and Ayurveda methods, polarity therapy is based on the principle that energy naturally flows between a positive and negative pole in the body. If there are blockages in this flow, disease and illness result. Freeing these blockages with diet, exercise and self-awareness counseling restores balance so that the body can heal itself.
Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR is particularly effective in treating PPD, although it was originally designed for treating trauma patients. During therapy the patient is asked to focus on an image which is moved back and forth. The resulting eye movements are thought to stimulate the two sides of the brain and reduce symptoms of postpartum depression like distress and anxiety.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): This technique draws on acupuncture (without the needles) and energy healing. It can be self-applied and involves tapping certain points in the body (energy meridian points) with your finger tip to calm down. Usually you will have a pre-set mantra, something like “I accept and love myself for who I am” and then tap 5 times on the energy point. Energy points are found in several parts of the body including between the eyes, in the middle of the chin and in the dent just above the lip. This technique is particularly powerful if you have identified self-esteem issues as a potential cause of your postpartum depression.
We all feel more positive in the sunshine, right? That basically is the concept behind light therapy. Light therapy is the purposeful exposure to bright light - it is a popular treatment for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Studies show that pregnant women suffering from depression show remarkable improvement when using a light box. A light box is exactly how it sounds - a box that emits special lighting and is used for 30 to 90 minutes every morning. If buying a light box make sure it is certified for treating SAD - not all light boxes are.
Physical massage makes everyone feel better, and studies show that it significantly decreases overall depression, anxiety and stress. Are you stressed? Take our online stress test to discover your risk of developing a stress-related illness.
The following is a list of other potentially beneficial therapies (although the benefits are not as clearly proven as with the above mentioned treatments):
• Applied kinesiology.
• Chiropractic therapy.
SaMe (S-adenosylmethionine) is a nutritional supplement (amino acid) that helps to boost the happy hormones in the brain (serotonin and dopamine). Studies show that SaMe is the most effective natural antidepressants on the market. In fact, it works faster than many medical antidepressants and is well tolerated. It should be taken with a vitamin B supplement although some manufacturers add it to the supplement. SaMe has widely been used in Europe for the last two decades and is relatively new to the U.S. market.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs): are also important for boosting serotonin and dopamine levels. Most American women do not get enough EFAs in their diet, so no wonder they are more vulnerable to depression. The more omega-3 fatty acid (the most important EFA) that you eat in your third trimester, the less likely you are to be depressed after childbirth (for up to 8 months). It also helps you relax and sleep better. Natural sources of omega-3 include pumpkin seeds, walnuts, flaxseed, kidney beans, salmon, cod liver oil and tuna. Alternatively you can take a supplement. When choosing a EFA omega-3 supplement buy one with a combination of 1,000mg of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and 1,000mg DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
Multi-Vitamin: If you are breastfeeding talk to your pediatrician about whether to stay on your prenatal vitamins or to switch to a multivitamin. If taking a multivitamin choose one that contains vitamin B-12, this is required for the production of serotonin and dopamine. It should in fact contain the full range of B-vitamins, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin D and iron.
Herbal remedies usually take effect fast if they are going to (within a matter of days). As some herbs are powerful and can cause serious drug interactions, you need to talk to your doctor if you are taking other prescribed drugs before taking them. Just because they are natural, does not mean that they are safe. If you have mild depression (or baby blues) you may find herbs more useful. Options include:
Kava: Useful for reducing anxiety. In Europe it is approved for treating depression, insomnia and anxiety disorders. It is available in supplement form in the US.
Ginkgo Biloba: This is made from the leaves of tree and is known to increase alertness and mental clarity. However, it should be used with caution by people taking anticoagulants.
St John’s Wort: This is a yellow flower used to treat depression, anxiety and sleep problems. Much studied over the years it is thought this herb boosts serotonin levels and is useful in treating mild depression. It may however make other medications less effective - specifically contraceptive pills and heart disease medications. The effect on children breastfeed by a mother taking St John’s Wort is also under investigation.