Having a baby is stressful – no matter how exciting it is to have a new child you love unconditionally, the responsibilities that come with it lead most women to go through a rollercoaster of emotions. Although, some sort of baby blues are not uncommon in new mothers, postpartum depression is a more serious issue.
Although studies claim that one in ten thousand women are affected by postpartum depression, the truth is that one in every seven women suffer from it, but due to the social stigma attached to the experience of depression, women find it hard to confront or even acknowledge this issue. In rare cases, about 10% of men also go through postpartum depression, usually correlated with their spouse’s depression and stress.
Some of the causes of postpartum depression are :
- In some cases, depression is the result of an imbalance in hormones post delivery – progesterone and estrogen. These hormones often lead to undesirable or uncomfortable body changes (especially during first-time pregnancies) such as leaky breasts, body odor etc.
- In most cases the depression is more from the rush of emotions like anxiety, isolation, and fear of failure (again more evident in the case of a first time mother).
- Having to return to work when the baby is too young.
- Dealing with judgment by the society.
- Lack of sleep and time.
- The fear of weight gain that comes with motherhood – this is one of the most common reasons.
Some of the common symptoms are:
- Suicidal thoughts in extreme cases.
- Thoughts of harming the baby is not uncommon.
- Avoiding friends and family.
- Ignoring the baby.
- Not paying attention to self.
- Lack of interest in daily activities.
- Extreme mood swings.
How exercise can help:
- Working out as a solution is a no-brainer when it comes to dealing with any form of depression. Workouts have a calming and uplifting impact that helps to beat the blues. This is due to the release of endorphins such as dopamine, commonly known as the ‘feel good’ hormone, as well as improving overall alertness and concentration.
- A structured training program especially post delivery goes a long way in helping the mother stave off weight gain and regain her pre-pregnancy shape. Weight loss and toning of muscle is very easily achieved with a proper fitness plan, and this will lead to a tremendous boost in self confidence.
- A one-hour workout would also, by extension, imply some time out from the daily routine to pamper yourself without having to worry about anything else.
- Subconsciously, exercise can also help you in making wiser and healthier choices in all aspects of life, for eg., nutrition.
Antidepressants and hormonal treatment have also proven to be effective to help with postpartum depression although they come with numerous side effects, where as exercise not only comes with several health benefits, but also improves physical as well as psychological well being.
Sometimes talking to a psychologist or counsellor can be of great help, but in extreme cases, getting medical help will be your best bet.
Remember to surround yourself with people you love and care, or engaging in an activity you love, small things like these can heal you to great lengths in addition to medication.
Endnote: Not only does exercise cost lesser than all other treatments, but working out will not carry a social stigma, which means one can treat postpartum depression while being stress-free at the same time.
Always remember, it has nothing to do with being a good parent or your character, it’s a health issue, be kind to yourself and treat it in the best way possible, so that you can bounce back to mental and physical wellness in no time!
Article Credits – Lalitha Lakshman