How to manage post partum depression with food
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Postpartum depression is a very serious mood disorder that develops in women after their delivery. The severity of the disorder depends on the emotional, psychological history, social, financial and physical status of the woman suffering from it. In some women, the intensity of the condition gets to a point where it is difficult for the affected woman to take care of her newborn and/ or her own body. The solace is that all women experience this after delivering their child and every mother is allowed to process at the pace she wants. Let’s look at the causes that trigger post partum depression.
- Hormonal and Physiological Changes
A pregnant woman’s body changes multiple times over the 9 months but nothing prepares the body for the physical trauma that delivery time brings. Hormones are all over the place and the body has just undergone a severely painful incident, rendering the body very vulnerable. Most women feel out of control of their body and bodily movements during this time. During pregnancy, the estrogen and progesterone levels are higher than usual. Within hours of giving birth, these hormone levels drop back to their previous state. This sudden fluctuation triggers the mood disorder. Low thyroid hormone levels after pregnancy are also major influencers in this disorder.
- Erratic Sleep
New moms all over the world, cannot sleep properly after the birth of a child. It is impossible to sleep especially when you don't know the patterns of the new human you have just produced! You are overly protective of this new life, a new extension of your own body and you are constantly on alert. This leads you to have very poor quality of sleep, which is linked to depression flare ups.
- Erratic Eating Habits.
Just like sleep, eating habits also go for a toss after the birth of the child. You focus on the child’s health more than on yours. Not having adequate food, erratic meal timings, staying hungry for a long time really takes a toll on the mental health. Remember the stomach and your brain are directly connected! If you’re not eating properly, your brain will not function optimally.
- Psychological history
Psychological issues, genetic or acquired majorly determine the severity of the symptoms of postpartum depression in women. If you have high anxiety and depression diagnosed before pregnancy or have a family history, you are more likely to have a severe bout of depression post delivery, added on to the other immediate issues. There is no shame in seeking help for this. Depression is like any other disorder that can be managed by going to a qualified professional and seeking help and therapy. You have undergone a life changing event, you are allowed to take stock of it and process it in your time, at your pace, with a professional.
- Family and Society
Women in a patriarchal environment tend to suffer more and find their depression symptoms increase manifold when they are expected to do everything by themselves, without proper adequate familial support. Taking care of the baby is a full time role and you have to do it, while your body is healing from a major traumatic birthing event. During this time, familial support of all kinds, mental, physical and financial, is important and one should not be afraid to demand it. At this point, you as a mother have to understand that raising a child takes a village and you are well within your rights to demand for help and delegate work so that the pressure is off you. Your body needs time to heal, you need to nourish it back to health. If you are not able to take care of yourself, your baby’s health suffers. So while you make your baby the priority, remember, you both are deeply connected. What happens to you will affect the baby’s growth and development.
Ask For Help: Whether it is physical, emotional or financial support, do not hesitate to ask people around you for help. Schedule the appointment with a therapist and attend the meetings every time, especially in those times when you feel you have nothing to say. These times are crucial for your therapist to help you deal with the emotions in a healthy manner. Ask your friends and family to help you with the daily tasks as much as possible. Delegate small tasks that don't require your attention as much to other people and there is no need to feel guilty or obliged for their help. Keep talking to your partner, your friends and family about the daily ongoing, your feelings so that they know how to help you. Often women keep mum about their problems for a variety of reasons making it very difficult for their partners and family to understand their problems and stay on the same page.
Do not crash diet: Society lays a lot of pressure on women to look a certain way and behave as if whatever they’ve been through doesn't matter especially after pregnancy. It is however natural to want a body that is healthy and fit and looks conventionally beautiful because hey, all the celeb moms are size zero! This leads you to scout for diets that promise the moon. Crash dieting usually involves deleting entire food groups from your diet which is a very wrong thing because after what you've been through, your body needs a lot of nutrients from all food groups to heal. Healing is more important that looking ‘good’. Have healthy foods, snack smart, have foods and drinks that nourish your body, eat small meals to avoid postpartum acidity and digestion disorders. Gut health during this time is very fragile and you need to take care of it to function properly. Drink a lot of water and try to sleep for 8 hour every day.
So, what are the foods you can eat to help you with your postpartum depression? First of all, a healthy, balanced diet full of vitamins, minerals and clean foods is necessary to manage your post delivery mental and physical health. Have more of the following to kill two birds with one stone when it comes to postpartum depression!
Omega 3: Low dietary intake and/or tissue levels of n-3 (omega-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are associated with postpartum depression. Low tissue levels of n-3 PUFAs - in particular, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are said to trigger depression coupled with other existing problems. Having a good intake of Omega 3 will help you feel better and sleep better- the two most important processes in healing. Natural resources : Add chia seeds and flax seeds
Magnesium: Trace element magnesium is known to influence the nervous system through its actions on the release and metabolism of neurotransmitters. An adequate amount of intake ensures the relaxation of tight muscles, maintenance of blood pressure and bone health. Natural resources : Banana, figs, chickpeas and nuts.
Melatonin: Melatonin is a regulatory circadian hormone that has hypnotic, sedative, anxiolytic and possibly antidepressant effects on women suffering from postpartum depression. It helps in regulating the speed of your biological clock, increases immune health and is a powerful anti-inflammatory element. Natural resources : Almonds, A2 milk, Basmati rice, tart cherries, fenugreek seeds, sunflower seeds and lentils.
Vitamin B6(pyridoxine): The Vitamin B group has for long been very important in the management of depression physiologically. B6 is a cofactor in the production of serotonin, the happy hormone via tryptophan. The active metabolite of folate present in this is required for many important signal transfer pathways between the brain and the body. Natural resources : Eggs, carrots, sweet potatoes, banana and Avocado
Zinc: Zinc as a trace element has the second highest concentration of all transition metals in the brain, and its deficiency is associated with behavioral disturbances. An adequate regular dosage of zinc helps reduce anxiety and depression. Natural resources : Nuts and seeds, whole grains and lentils.
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