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Postpartum Depression: Signs and Natural Remedies

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 10/8/2010

Feeling "blue" after having a baby is normal and only lasts a few days. More intense and prolonged feelings can be signs of postpartum depression. Learn what the signs are and what natural remedies for postpartum depression can help.

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    Postpartum Depression

    It is normal for women to have mood swings after having a baby. One minute you may feel happy and the next minute you may feel sad and start crying. Mild depression, loss of appetite, unable to sleep, and difficulty concentrating are other signs new moms may feel. If you are experiencing any of these signs, you have what is referred to as the "baby blues" (a normal part of early motherhood). These feelings usually start about 3-4 days after giving birth and last about ten days.

    Signs of postpartum depression are more severe and last longer. Women who have a history of postpartum depression, depression (unrelated to pregnancy), and severe PMS (premenstrual syndrome) are more at risk of developing postpartum depression. Having few family members or friends to depend on, being in a difficult relationship or marriage, and stressful life events are other risk factors.

    Postpartum depression is an illness and many women experience it. It varies for each woman, lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Below are signs that may occur and natural remedies for postpartum depression.

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    Signs

    Signs, which usually begin about two weeks after giving birth but can appear up to three to six months after childbirth, include:

    • feeling sad often
    • crying frequently
    • feeling tired and low in energy
    • feeling irritable or anxious
    • having trouble remembering things or concentrating
    • loss of appetite or excessive eating
    • feeling worthless, guilty, or hopeless
    • difficulty sleeping
    • loss of interest in life
    • feeling overwhelmed with everyday activities
    • low sexual desire
    • showing little interest in your baby
    • feeling like life isn't worth living
    • feeling like you will never get better

    Unexplained back pain, abdominal pain, and headache are other signs of postpartum depression.

    Thoughts of hurting your baby or yourself are signs of postpartum psychosis. If you are having either of these signs, talk with your doctor immediately.

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    Natural Remedies

    Fish Oil (rich in omega-3 fatty acids)

    In an eight week study, 16 women with postpartum depression received fish oil in three different dosages per day. Seven women received 2.8 grams, six received 0.5 grams, and three received 1.4 grams. Depression scores in all three groups dropped by around 50%.[1]

    In another study involving 24 women, fish oil was shown to be significantly more effective than the placebo after 8 weeks.[2]

    Support

    Find support by:

    • talking to someone who you can express your feelings to
    • getting help with childcare, errands, and household chores
    • joining a support group in your area
    • seeking counseling, especially if your signs of postpartum depression are severe

    Other

    Relaxation techniques, massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and art and music therapies are other natural remedies for postpartum depression.

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    References

    [1] Acta Psychiatr Scand., 2006; 113(1): 31-5

    [2] J Clin Psychiatry, 2008, Mar 18

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    Disclaimer

    Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article.