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Dealing with Postpartum Depression

While the birth of a new baby is a happy occasion, after delivery many women, between 8 and 19 percent, experience mood swings, anxiety and other symptoms of postpartum depression.

After delivering a baby, your body goes through intense physical and emotional changes that can trigger postpartum depression. The condition is much more than just “baby blues.” Women feel long-term, intense problems such as overwhelming fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, irritability and difficulty bonding with the baby.

Here are five ways to cope with postpartum depression:

  1. Talk to your physician. Your physician can get you counseling to work through the stresses of having a new baby and prescribe medications. Some antidepressants are available that pose little risk to babies even when you are breastfeeding.
  2. Live a healthy lifestyle. Physical activity has repeatedly been shown to increase mood. You should also avoid alcohol which can harm your mood.
  3. Give yourself a break. Set aside time during the day that is just for you. It may be 30 minutes of exercise, time to read quietly or a long shower. Also don’t set high expectations for what being a new mother will be like. You will make mistakes sometimes, and it is a stressful time for everyone.
  4. Think positively. Take time before responding to a stressful situation and choose to react as positively as you can. Find strategies to calm down before you react like breathing exercises or even leaving the room briefly to collect your thoughts.
  5. Stay connected. Reach out to your support system of family and friends. Talk to them about how you feel and let them help if you need it. You can also try finding support groups for new mothers.

If you feel you are suffering from postpartum depression, get help early. Untreated, postpartum depression increases your risk for major depression in the future and affects your child’s behavioral development.

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