Depression affects approximately 13% of new mums. Chris Barnes of the Gidget Foundation shares her top five tips for coping with perinatal depression.
1. Start talking
If you feel like you haven’t been yourself for two weeks or more, start talking.
Recognising this feeling is not going away by itself can be hard to acknowledge, but talking to someone who cares and getting the help you need to address this very treatable condition paves the way to recovery.
Talking reduces loneliness and the stigma attached to having this diagnosis.
2. Realise ‘it takes a village’
Perinatal depression and anxiety (PNDA) is a combination of biological, psychological and social factors you may have no control over.
Get support from various people in your life, such as your family, partner, friends, GP, midwife, obstetrician, psychologist, social worker and early childhood nurse.
Also reach out to specific organisations that help families in distress.
3. Seek professional support
Seeing a perinatal specialist for psychological help can be very effective.
Talking to a specialist gives you the opportunity to discuss any worries you may have and be understood in a non-judgemental and caring way.
It may take some time and active work to recover, but it is possible.
4. Champion practical help
Having a baby can be a time of mixed emotions, exhaustion, isolation, sleep deprivation, irritability, low mood, loss of enjoyment in life and other physical after-birth issues.
Getting practical help can lighten your load. This may be hard if you’re not used to asking for help, however this is absolutely encouraged.
Ask your partner, a friend or family member, or even outsource if you have no family around.
5. Become active in your recovery
Getting active can be hard, but it is crucial for your recovery. Daily exercise increases endorphins, our natural ‘happy’ hormones.
Do whatever feels good and make a realistic plan for exercise, one you know you will carry out. Also, eat a well-balanced diet as research links gut health and mood disruptions.
And meditation apps, such as Smiling Minds and Headspace, can be useful.