The diagnosis of Postpartum Depression (PPD) is too narrow for most women’s experience. Many women will simply not have felt the same since they gave birth, but it is difficult to characterize how they feel. They do not consider themselves to necessarily be depressed and they are functional.
The fact is, women who suffer from Postpartum Mood Disorders (PPMD) may not feel depressed at all! PPMD can take on many different faces which may or may not include depression.
To contrast, here are some of the common signs of depression:
- Constant sad, down or “empty” mood
- Losing interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed
- Excessive crying
- Feeling guilty, lonely, worthless, or hopeless
- Sleeping too much
- Increased appetite overeating and weight gain
- Decreased energy, feeling exhausted
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment
These symptoms may or may not exist along with these unexpected signs of PPMD:
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Obsessive/ Compulsive thoughts or behaviors
- Unable to sleep, either can’t fall asleep or can’t stay asleep
- Unable to eat, loss of appetite, weight loss
- Scary and violent thoughts
- Restlessness and irritability
- Feeling tired and wired
- Loss of sex drive and regular menstrual cycle
- Not quite feeling the same since giving birth
How can I treat PPMD?
Oftentimes, PPMD comes from an imbalance of one or more of these types:
When it comes to treating imbalance in the body using naturopathic medicine, we always want to look for the cause of the imbalance, and then treat the imbalance itself. But some doctors will simply prescribe a pill to cover up the symptoms a woman currently feels.
For instance, if a woman is having hormonal problems, her doctor may prescribe birth control pills. If she is having biochemical complaints, she is put on a medication depending on her symptoms. If she is having issues with her weight, she is prescribed appetite control or appetite stimulation medications.
Each of these treatments comes along with unwanted side-effects and cannot be carried on indefinitely. But I’m here to tell you that there may be a better way. Here are some examples of naturopathic treatments to these problems.
Since low progesterone levels can cause many of the signs of depression, along with the inability to sleep, a blood test during a woman’s period can be invaluable.
The latest literature shows that oral micronized progesterone taken at bedtime or with dinner is a great choice to rebalance your progesterone levels. Since it is bio-identical and a prescription medication, insurance will usually cover it. (Note: if you have a peanut allergy, you will need to specially order one made with olive oil.)
Unlike taking synthetic hormone pills, the cycle will be balanced, creating a healthy mood without adversely affecting fertility or increasing risk of blood clots and heart disease—two major side effects of traditional birth control pills.
If a woman is suffering from mood swings, or sleep deprivation, a simple urine and saliva test will show which hormones are out of balance.
As opposed to using prescription medications, which have a variety of different side effects and are very difficult (some might say impossible) to stop using, targeted amino acid therapy uses the building blocks of protein to restore health. Once symptom relief is achieved, a weaning process helps reset the body.
One of my own patients, Nicole, successfully weaned herself off antidepressants. I helped her explore the different options to restore her biochemical levels. You can read about her story in my new book, “Baby Blues: A Naturopathic Approach for Postpartum Health.”
You are what you eat, so if you eat well, you’ll feel great! Likewise, if you eat poorly, you will feel unwell. It is important to have a personalized nutritional plan. Focus on the food you eat and the habits you develop; don’t pop pills to decrease or increase your appetite as a quick fix. Here, it is all about making healthy choices for life.
A good place to begin is with eating a diet that is best for your blood type. This allows you to choose foods that you’re less likely to be sensitive to, and instead eat foods that work with your biological make-up. More testing may be considered for women with known sensitivities, allergies and more complicated situations.
There are several different ways that you can treat imbalances that lead to postpartum mood disorders. You could choose to go the traditional route, but know that it will only treat the problem temporarily and will not offer a long-lasting solution. The naturopathic solutions I’ve presented here can significantly improve your quality of life without the extensive side effects that many traditional medicines cause.
I hope this was informative and helpful for you! If you want to take the next step to bettering your health, I would love to schedule a private consultation with you. Or, if you just want to learn more, click this link.
Did you experience postpartum depression? What were your signs and symptoms? How did you treat it? Share with us in the comments below!