Part II–(Postpartum) Depression: 10 Ways to Triumph

This is part II of a two part guest post series on postpartum depression. You can read part I here.

There are so many ways to counter depression and its hold on your life, but you will not get better if you do nothing. Professional counselors and therapists are trained to help you work through the illness, and to teach you coping techniques to help you manage it.  Your physician can prescribe antidepressants to help from within the body, or he may refer you to a psychiatrist if he feels that you should be evaluated by someone whose focus is mental health.  A combination of the two (counseling and medication) is often highly effective.  But if you’re leery of taking antidepressants, as some natural-minded mamas may be, there are a number of things you can start doing right now, right at home, to help yourself feel better.  These are my coping techniques, the little things that I’ve learned to do over the past 18 years that help keep me sane.

1)  Ask for help.  Don’t be afraid to rely on your support system.  Your family and your friends love you, and they want to help you.  Maybe it’s helping with chores, keeping the kids so you can get a nap, sitting with you while you talk, or holding you while you cry.  You know who you have around you, and who will be able to help with what.  Ask.  (If you’re military and far from home, there are about a zillion programs designed to help families.  You can follow those channels!)

2)  Let go of the guilt.  It’s not helping you, and it’s not helping anyone else.  Depression is an illness, and to some extent, it is going to affect your ability to function, just as having the flu or a heart attack will affect your ability to function.

3)  Exercise.  In the short term, exercise releases mood-lifting endorphines. In the long term, it’ll help you get that pre-baby body back, which will boost your self esteem.

4)  Keep an eye on your diet.  Not only is it just plain good for you, but you’ll probably feel guilty if you eat junk.  When you eat well, you’ll feel good about making healthy choices.

5)  Baby steps.  When things seem overwhelming, break tasks down into bites you can chew.  For example, if you’re having a hard time keeping up with the house work, break it up so that you only tackle one or two jobs per day.  I love making lists, too, so that I get to cross things off as I complete them.  The sense of pride and accomplishment I have when I’m done is a definite pick me up.

6)  Take a step back.  Reflect on your thoughts and emotions from a logical perspective.  If it’s hard for you to adopt that perspective, try hashing it out with someone else.  (This is where having a professional counselor or therapist can be very beneficial. An impartial third party will be able to give you a truly unbiased perspective that your mother, partner, or best friend may not be able to.)

7)  Educate yourself.  There are about a gazillion things to read about (PP)D on the internet alone.  Choose a few trustworthy sources, and learn about what you’re experiencing and why.  Learning about hormones and synopses and neurotransmitters and how they play a role in how I feel emotionally helped me to accept that my depression is not just a figment of my imagination.

8)  Professional Help. Ask your doctor, your priest, your pastor, your rabbi.  Seek counseling.  Even for families without insurance or with a restricted income, there are programs in place to help you.  Take advantage of them.

9)   Be honest with yourself, about how you feel, what you can do, and what you need.  Act accordingly.   Don’t expect to be able to coordinate a bake sale, just because you think you ought to be able to.  If you try to take it on and then later find that it was too much,  you’re going to feel more overwhelmed and frustrated than you did to begin with, on top of a sense of failure that you weren’t up to it.  And if you know that being alone is just going to give you time to wallow in your negative feelings, make it a point to get out and around other people.  On the other hand, if you need some quiet time to yourself to unwind and process, then make it a point to do that.

10)  Want to feel better.  Sounds like a no-brainer, right? If you’re depressed, it’s much easier said than thought. Want it enough to work for it.  Marshaling the energy to do these things that I’ve listed is hard.  It’s hard to get out of bed, it’s hard to ask for help, and it’s hard to face our emotions, especially when they’re so out of control.

I hope these suggestions are helpful to you!  Please remember, though, that sometimes, for some of us, these coping techniques are not be enough.  I try to avoid using the medication if I can, and I make sure to use the smallest effective dose that I can, but I know when to call in the back up.  If you are averse to the antidepressants, try remain open to the possibility that you might need an antidepressant for a period of time to get back on your feet.  There may be some unnatural and unnecessary chemicals in there, but balanced against all that you stand to gain, it might be worth it, even if you’re pregnant or nursing.  (Again, educate yourself about your options, and discuss them with your physician.  The depression itself may be more harmful to your child than the medication would be.)  Whatever you do, please do something!

In addition to being a veteran of PPD, Adrienne is a craft junkie, Navy wife, and stay at home mother to two beautiful little girls near Norfolk, Virginia.  She blogs about it all at .




Did you know The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year is now for sale? Are you interested in learning more about gentle, mom and baby-friendly practices that foster a joyful, connected relationship? Want to introduce a pregnant friend to natural parenting? Check out our website or head over to Amazon to grab your copy today!


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