How Naturopathy Can Help With Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Chances are, you have heard about the baby blues or postpartum depression. You may have even filled out questionnaires about your mood during your postpartum doctor’s visit. The baby blues are a very common reaction to decreasing hormone levels after delivery, and may leave you feeling sad, weepy, and overwhelmed. A study recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that women living in urban areas of greater than 500,000 people were more likely to experience postpartum depression with social support being cited as one important factor.
However, for the majority of new mothers, the symptoms are mild and usually only last for a couple of weeks. When the symptoms persist and become debilitating, something else could be going on.

Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety

Many symptoms overlap between postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety (such as poor sleep, trouble relaxing, and irritability). Mothers experiencing postpartum depression commonly experience symptoms of anxiety, although not all mothers suffering from anxiety are depressed. Establishing the correct diagnosis is important, as women with postpartum anxiety may not respond as well to certain treatments for depression.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of clinical depression which affects women who have recently given birth. It is estimated that 10-20% of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression within one year after giving birth.

Postpartum depression is a serious mental illness that involves the brain and affects your behaviour and physical health. If you have depression, then sad, flat, or empty feelings don’t go away and can interfere with your day-to-day life. You might feel unconnected to your baby, as if you are not the baby’s mother, or you might not love or care for the baby. These feelings can be mild to severe.

Postpartum Anxiety

Similar to postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety may spike due to hormonal changes in the postpartum period. It may also increase as a response to real stressors — whether it’s the health of the baby, finances, or in response to navigating new roles in your relationships. A history of pregnancy loss (miscarriage or stillbirth) also increases your risk for developing postpartum anxiety. If you have a history of anxiety before or during pregnancy, postpartum anxiety symptoms may also return after delivery. Anxiety and sadness may also appear after weaning from breastfeeding due to hormonal changes.

Consequences And Treatments

Postpartum depression and anxiety have long-lasting consequences for mother and child. Beside depression, sleep and eating disturbances, exhaustion, social withdrawal, and anxiety, postpartum depression can also interfere with normal maternal-infant bonding and adversely affect child development.

Unfortunately, postpartum depression and anxiety don’t go away on their own, but both mild and severe cases can be successfully treated with different forms of psychotherapy and antidepressant medication. Two main types doctors may prescribe include tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Non-Medical Alternative To Treat PPD and Postpartum Anxiety

However, recent reports suggest that most affected women, especially those who breastfeed are hesitant about taking antidepressant drugs, with a high percentage discontinuing their use.

Working with a naturopathic doctor to create a treatment plan during pregnancy and post-childbirth can be a viable alternative to help mitigate some of the known causes of postpartum depression, without resorting to taking potentially risky medicines.

What is Naturopathy And How Can It Help?

Naturopathy is a form of healthcare that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. The goal of naturopathy is to treat the whole person — mind, body, and spirit. It also aims to heal the root causes of an illness, not just stop the symptoms.

Sanomed offers naturotherapy treatment options to help address concerns related to postpartum depression and anxiety. The clinic will craft a plan unique to your needs and support you every step of the way to a healthier wellbeing. The treatment is coordinated with your maternity provider, midwife, public health nurse, psychiatrist and/or counsellor to ensure you receive adequate support.

Depending on the severity of a woman’s condition, conventional medical treatment may be recommended and sought out immediately.