If you suspect you may have more than the baby blues – any feelings of anxiety or depression that you aren’t sure you can easily handle yourself – the first step is asking for help. Don’t hesitate. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD), as the general category of afflictions is now called, is a real medical condition. It’s not your fault, it’s not your imagination and it can be treated effectively.
But it can take a few days to get in to see your doctor or a mental health professional. In the meantime, here are 7 things you can do right now to help yourself:
- Get as much sleep as possible: Sleep can be hard to come by with a new baby. Nap when the baby naps, and let your partner know you need some support to take a break. If you’re a single mom, reach out to any family or friends for respite.
- Join a support group online: This will quickly connect you with people who are dealing with similar emotions. It’s not a substitute for the personal, professional help you may need, but it will validate that what you’re feeling is real, and will help you to feel less alone. Here’s one resource.
- Exercise: Take a walk or find exercise videos online that you can do at home.
- Relax: Do some simple meditation or breathing exercises, or try yoga. Many websites have instructions on how to begin meditating or doing yoga.
- Take time for yourself: Spend whatever time you can doing something you enjoy. Taking part in activities that make you happy will help you recharge.
- Spend time with other adults: Contact and conversations with adult friends and relatives, even for only a short period of time, are vital.
- Eat a healthy diet: Shortly after giving birth, many women become deficient in several essential nutrients. Make sure you’re eating several balanced meals a day, filled with proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.
If you feel your symptoms need immediate attention, don’t hesitate to go to your local emergency room or call 911.
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