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Postnatal Depression

Depression and emotional distress is often experienced after the delivery of a child by many women, and especially in first time mothers. Though commonly persisting only for several days at a time, the incidence of postnatal depression in all women is most apparent within days of giving birth, and its effects are felt in their most severe forms around that time. Some of the forms in which the emotional distress in the women will be displayed include sudden and uncontrollable bouts of weeping, abrupt temper tantrums and outbursts and an oscillating appetite with extreme hunger or extreme distaste for food. Sleep is disturbed with the occurrence of frequent nightmares and bad dreams. The persistence of these symptoms may be another cause of concern for some women, the depression lasting for several months even after the delivery of the child.

Psychological and physical withdrawal from life and seclusion from friends and family is the first sign of extreme and debilitating postnatal depression. Suicidal impulses can often be present and the mother often neglects the care of the baby as she loses interest in life. Professional psychiatric supervision and advice is necessary if these conditions are present in the mother. Professional treatment of a latent psychosis may become necessary; this latent psychological problem being brought out by the distress due to postnatal depression this unfortunate condition is often marked by hallucinations and extreme behavior on the part of the mother.

Postnatal depression as a condition is cause by contributory factors such as the fluctuating levels of female hormones, the sudden need to cope with the new situation and the reality of birth and the exhaustion during the period of labor and the term of pregnancy. While mental and emotional exhaustion can bring about low levels of psychological activity lasting for many days and even running into weeks, sudden mood changes are also a result of the emotional trauma experienced by the mother. Ignoring or underestimating these emotional distress arising in the mother due to the pregnancy and the process of childbirth is a serious mistake. Most women and new mothers especially require sufficient time to get used to the new reality and adapt themselves to the new situation since the event of childbirth may drastically change their lifestyle and emotional state. Feelings of inadequacy, guilt or extreme anger can develop in the woman if the childbirth did not proceed as planned or if the expectations set about the situation of motherhood was unrealistic, a feeling of disappointment and despondency leads quickly to depression in such cases.

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An under active thyroid can be the cause of the low levels of energy experienced by some women, this physical disorder may be a more likely cause of the weakness instead of depression or fatigue. Due to the fact that many other metabolic changes are occurring in the body at the time of the pregnancy, the onset of thyroid trouble often goes unnoticed as it is masked by other conditions, even if energy level in the woman drops precipitously. A lowered energy level in the woman can also be brought on by the presence of low blood-sugar levels and deficiencies in certain essential nutrients, which can come about because of a diet poor in important compounds. The stress felt during the process of labor, the need to feed the baby and the exhaustion during the term of pregnancy can deplete levels of all essential nutrients in the woman, the essential nutrients can be restored through the consumption of a diet rich in whole grains, healthy and wholesome foods including many raw fruits and vegetables.

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Supplements and herbs

Stress and emotional distress during term of pregnancy and exhaustion are connected to the deficiency in essential nutrients particularly if the diet is poor and this leads to the onset of postnatal depression. To reduce and minimize the worst effects of depression and stress, the B vitamins is required in sufficient levels in the diet, though other nutritional supplements and substances are of equal import in this regard. The manufacture and normalization of various hormones in the body requires as a cofactor the use of the vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, a depletion of the essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium in the body of the woman, leads to conditions of sleeplessness and muscular cramps and the irritability of nerves increases. To boost the levels of energy in the woman, use can be made of the royal jelly and bee pollen as excellent and effective supplements.

All the herbs given below can be used as a soothing herbal treatment to allay stress and emotional distress in the woman caused by the stressful situation of childbirth and induced by the variety of physical and emotional changes that comes along with the addition of a baby in the family.

Utilize the herbal teas made form the herbs such as the ginseng, the hops, and the sarsaparilla or if it is unavailable the leaves of the blessed thistle to restore the hormonal balance in the body . To prepare the herbal teas, to a boiling cup of water mix a tsp. of the herb or the combined herbs, the resulting liquid can be strained and the tea can be drunk twice a day as a relief measure. To ward of melancholic feeling and signs of depression, use can be made of the leaves of the lemon balm herb, dosages of this herb can be taken over a two week period by drinking a cup of the lemon balm tea once before going to sleep. To promote a soothing and relaxing experience while asleep, prepare the tea using a cup of boiling water to steep a tsp. of the dried lemon balm leaves or alternately use a sprig of fresh lemon balm leaves instead, to this mixture can be added after straining a tsp. of honey for taste. All the herbs such as the leaves of the borage herb, the leaves of the lavender, the St. John's wort herb, the rosemary and the straw of the oat can be made into excellent nervine tonics to cure the depression in the woman. Make it a point at least thrice a day to drink a cup of herbal tea made from these herbs while experiencing postnatal depression. A combination of the herbs can be used or a single herb can also be utilized to prepare the herbal tea. The restoration of bodily function can be achieved through the use of the combination of the of the following herbs, combine two parts of the leaves of the rosemary herb, with two parts of the leaves of the raspberry, to this add two parts of the skullcap herb, and finally add one part of the root of the licorice herb, to this combination the addition of a cup of boiling water will lead to the production of a herbal tea, strain this tea can drink two cups every day for a duration of two months during the postnatal depression. While hormonal balance is promoted by the licorice, a calming effect on the nerves is induced by the skullcap, while the ovaries and the uterus is toned up by the raspberry, and the assimilation of calcium into the body and the promotion of the flow of breast milk are the functions of the rosemary. Utilize bath water with the addition of essential oils to it; these oils can also be used as a rub and in the massage of painful and stressed areas of the body. To the bath water 10 drops of the oil of lavender, the oil of lemon balm or jasmine oil can be added as a topical relief measure.

Homeopathy

An effective homeopathic remedy that acts precisely can often be suggested by professional homeopathic practitioners if they are examine the woman well and if they also posses an expertise in dealing with pregnancy and childbirth in women.

  • Arsenicum
    Arsenicum is to be used as a homeopathic treatment option in those women suffering from postnatal depression where the psychological feelings that predominate are extreme insecurity and despondency, the woman may additionally feel hopeless and may require attention and demand emotional and physical support and psychological succor. Other emotional symptoms in the affected individual will include feelings of incapacity and physical exhaustion and restlessness, however the character of the woman will be finicky and controlling as far as other people are concerned. Fearful thoughts and despair including extreme emotional insecurity characterize all such affected women. The presence of any of these symptoms in the depressed individual requires the utilization of Arsenicum as a homeopathic remedy.
  • Aurum met.
    Aurum met. is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of women with extreme and severe depressive states during the onset of the postnatal depression, a dark and despairing mood characterizes such women. The separation can go to such an extent that life becomes meaningless to the person and feelings of worthlessness can settle deeply in the affected individual. The condition of the depressed woman may greatly worsen during the nighttime, or when the sky darkens and in seasons when the days are shorter than at other times. Aurum has often been beneficial to depressed women, where the depression was not connected to pregnancy or childbirth. In severe depressive states the woman must be taken to a doctor or psychiatric professional as soon as possible. The appearance of any of the symptoms given above requires the utilization of aurum met. as a homeopathic remedy to fight postnatal depression.
  • Calcarea carb.
    Calcarea carb. is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of postnatal depressed women where the depression has given an overdrive to the activity of the woman, feelings of being overwhelmed by work is a common complaint, but the woman continues this workaholic display of behavior, the woman may additionally show signs of extreme drive and feelings of the burden of responsibility and duty. The resulting depression is often as a result of the physical weakness and fatigue arising in the woman as she pushes herself to work. Other symptoms are the occurrence of attacks of anxiety, the development of insomnia, and the occurrence of nightmares during sleep. A sluggishness and exhaustion characterizes such people, and they are moreover very cold to the touch. Calcarea carb. is to be prescribed as a homeopathic treatment in all individuals who show any of these symptoms.
  • Cimicifuga
    Cimicifuga is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of woman with postnatal depression where the underlying causes of the depression are possibly due to emotional factors or are because hormonal imbalances in the body. Emotionally the woman may feel she has lost control over her life and that "a dark cloud" has crept into her existence. Mood swings from a state of talkativeness to sudden anxiety and gloom is present in the woman, additionally she may feel incapable of looking after her own baby, and the sudden shifts in mood may be irrational and strange. The presence of any of these symptoms requires the utilization of Cimicifuga as a homeopathic remedy.
  • Ignatia
    Ignatia is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of postnatal depressed women who display emotional upsets and grief after giving birth; in addition the woman may be tense and uptight. Psychological reasons play a great role in this particular type of depression, where high expectations were set in the birth of the child and when this did not occur the grief set in, however the grief can be due to a real problem, like health disorders in the new born infant. Other psychological symptoms that accompany the emotional distress are sudden and inexplicable tears or laughter, sighing repeatedly and a defensive and hysterical behavior, problems such as insomnia may additionally be present in the woman. The presence of any of these symptoms requires the use of Ignatia as a homeopathic remedy against the depression.
  • Natrum mur.
    Natrum mur. is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of postnatal depressed women who want to cry alone and are given to extreme sadness and become very emotionally sensitive to every thing around them. Discouragement and doubts are some of the things that the woman displays psychologically and she may withdraw herself totally from the surrounding world. A brooding, anxious and sad disposition marks such mothers who are insecure about their capacity to care for the baby. They decline all emotional or physical support, often turning angrily and bursting out at would be consolers and friends. The depression may come along with headaches or palpitations in such women. The presence of any of these symptoms requires the utilization of Natrum mur. as a homeopathic remedy.
  • Phosphorus
    Phosphorus is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of postnatal depression in women who become fearful and suspicious of things around them, paranoia is worked up by an active imagination, and psychological signs are the pervading fear of disaster or misfortune that the woman may feel is impending at all times. The woman will fear being alone and more worried about the baby being harmed, a desire for company is shown as she fears things around her and is extremely paranoid, additionally she is afraid she will not be able to cope and demands help and attention. Physical signs may include a propensity to bleed and becoming exhausted even after minor exertions. These physical symptoms compound her mental ones and she is always fearful of things around her. The appearance of any of these symptoms requires the utilization of Phosphorus as a homeopathic remedy to quell depression.
  • Pulsatilla
    Pulsatilla is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of postnatal depression in women where the depression is a result of the imbalances and changes in the levels of hormones within the body, which can bring about symptoms such as tearfulness, and extreme emotional sensitivity in the woman. Psychological symptoms in the woman may include a craving for attention, and a persistent need to be reassured and looked after. The woman will significantly worsen when left in a stuffy room or when the weather is warm or when wearing warm clothes, the symptoms will greatly get better when she has been allowed to cry and release her emotions and if she walks out of doors in the fresh air. The presence of any of these symptoms requires the use of the pulsatilla as a homeopathic remedy.
  • Sepia
    Sepia is to be used in the homeopathic treatment of postnatal depression in women where the symptoms of the depression may include indifference and feelings of absolute tiredness after childbirth, such women may want to be left completely alone and do not want to be disturbed for anything. Psychological symptoms such as alienation and disaffection appear, and the woman may additionally even dislike having the baby next to her, and will feel alienated to it. Certain affected women may show signs of irritability, sadness and even fatigue, however the vast majority of such women display resentment and show signs of being emotionally overburdened. The development of weird sensation is in the woman such as the feeling in the woman that her uterus is sagging or her thinking that the floor of her pelvis is weak require this homeopathic remedy, the appearance of any of these symptoms can be controlled using Sepia as a homeopathic treatment.

Additional things you may do

The symptoms and the effects of postnatal depression are best and most effectively beaten off by activities of the mother such as breast-feeding her child. In this natural way, the body regains its hormonal balance and recovers its chemical balance as it aids in the normalization of hormonal swings by augmenting the production of happiness chemicals in the brain called endorphins, whose levels rise in the body and changes mood. Bonding is another important role that breast feeding plays between mother and child; this act restores the maternal feelings and the development of trust. To normalize and restore the body to a proper functional level, the importance of regular and mild to moderate exercise cannot be overemphasized, the woman also needs regular and abundant amounts of relaxation and restful sleep and a balance of exercise.

Usual dosage

  • Vitamin B6 or pyridoxal-5-phosphate, 50 mg
  • Vitamin B complex, 50mg thrice a day
  • Magnesium, 500 mg two times a day
  • Calcium, 1,200 mg, two times a day
  • Bee pollen, three tea spoons
  • Royal jelly, three capsules

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