Post partum depression management in Ayurveda

Postpartum Depression Management in Ayurveda

Though a blissful and magical stage in every woman’s life, motherhood is subjected to many stressful situations. Every new mom is vulnerable to certain stress called ‘Baby Blues’ or ‘Postpartum Blues’, a physiological condition normal for all new moms. When it slips from you, it can lead to Postpartum Depression and Psychosis, which requires medical attention. Here we discuss about the postpartum depression management in Ayurveda

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    Are you one among those who suffer postpartum depression?

    Stop taking the health-depressing antidepressants and mend your mind with our time-tested holistic science, Ayurveda.

    What is postpartum depression?

    With the first pregnancy, many women feel excited about the upcoming baby and worried and anxious about giving birth and caring for the baby.

    85% of mothers exhibit at least some degree of mental disturbance. 

    Such disturbances that occur within the first week after delivery are called ‘postpartum blues,’ ‘baby blues,’ or ‘maternity blues’. 

    This condition is not very dangerous. After two or three weeks, the mother will return to a normal state of mind. But when it is prolonged or uncontrolled, it can lead to severe depression (postpartum depression). 

    Postpartum depression is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioural changes in some women following delivery. 

    It usually begins within 4 weeks post delivery. When it is prolonged, it may further lead to postpartum psychosis.

    Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

    Symptoms of postpartum depression are usually hard to detect. Many women might have these symptoms following childbirth, such as

    • Trouble sleeping 
    • Appetite changes 
    • Severe fatigue 
    • Lower libido 
    • Frequent mood changes 
    • In Postpartum depression, women usually suffer from other symptoms of major depression, which aren’t typical after childbirth, and which may include: 
    • Lacking attention towards your baby or feeling of not bonding with them
    • Getting angry with the baby
    • Reluctant to breastfeed the child
    • Crying or laughing all the time, often for no reason
    • Depressed mood 
    • Severe anger and crankiness
    • Loss of pleasure 
    • Reluctance to eat or drink or sometimes overeating
    • Visual and auditory hallucinations
    • Death or suicidal thoughts
    • Trouble concentrating

    Causes

    There is a wide range of causes for this condition ranging from hormonal imbalance to anxieties about one’s body shape and beauty. There is a rapid drop in hormones post-delivery.

    The connection between this rapid drop and depression is still not clear. But what is known is that the levels of estrogen and progesterone increase tenfold during pregnancy. Then, they drop sharply post delivery. In addition, the social and psychological changes of having a baby create an increased risk of depression.

    Some of the common causes are summarised here.

    • Postpartum hormonal changes.
    • Anaemia
    • Insomnia due to postpartum pain or infection.
    • Delay in becoming breastfed.
    • Lack of attention as it is transferred now to the child 
    • People who have had mental problems in the past and have taken medication for it.
    • Emotional alienation or disharmony with family members (especially in-laws).
    • Anxieties about her figure post delivery
    • Women who are not mentally prepared to become mothers.

    Risk factors

    Some factors that increase the chances of postpartum depression include:

    Prior history of depression during or before pregnancy 

    Age at the time of pregnancy (the younger you are, the higher the chances)

    Family history of mood disorders

    Suffering from a highly stressful event like a job loss or health crisis

    Having a child with health issues

    Having twins or triplets

    Previous history of depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

    • Limited social support
    • Living alone
    • Marital conflict

    Ayurvedic Treatment for postpartum Depression

    (Therapies and medication)

    As there are worries from the very beginning of pregnancy, prepare your mind to be happy and ready for the fact that you are going to be a mother. There should be full support from the husband and family. The feeling of having her husband and family with her gives 

    strength to the mother.

    Garbhini Paricharya and Sutika Paricharya, as mentioned in the Ayurvedic classics, can be followed to prevent all those postpartum maladies. But specific treatment is necessary for conditions like postpartum depression and psychosis. Dhee-Dhairya-Atmadi Vijnana (good counseling) for mental disorders can be given first to the mother and the family. It is prescribed to administer suitable medicines like ghritam (ghee) and other medicines according to the condition. Some of the Ayurvedic treatment procedures for managing postpartum depression are:

    Abhyanga

    Abhyanga with medicated Herbal oils such as Bala taila, pinda taila etc., helps improve muscle tone and enhances the body complexion. It also helps in relaxing the mind.

    Vethukuli

    Vethukuli, or Bathing in medicated water for 9 – 40 days, helps regain the lost physical and mental strength and replenishes the body tissues.

    Music Therapy

    Music is a good remedy for mental health. This is something that many studies have proven. Mohanam, Hamsadhwani and Thodi are songs that evoke happiness. Listen to Ragas like Neelambari if you are sleep deprived. Both mother and baby will benefit equally.

    Takradhara

    Takradhara is a cooling and relaxing treatment procedure where medicated curd is poured over your head in a steady motion and helps you regain mental stability.

    Nasyam

    The process of instilling medicated liquids into the nose can cross the blood-brain barrier and mend your psychological issues. 

    Besides these procedures, there are several other treatment procedures according to the patient’s condition.

    Lifestyle changes

    A healthy lifestyle is necessary for every aspect of your life. To cope with postpartum depression, certain lifestyle modifications are to be followed, such as :

    • Walk with your baby to stay active
    • Eat healthily
    • Spend time with your family
    • Take adequate rest
    • Avoid alcohol
    • Prepare yourself

    Diet

    Studies have shown a link between nutritional deficiencies and postpartum depression. Nutrient deficiencies that can potentially impact postpartum depression include omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, folate and trace minerals such as iron, zinc, selenium and potassium. Many new mothers suffer from low serotonin levels (the feel-good hormone) or norepinephrine levels in the brain, which get exacerbated by nutritional deficiencies. 

    The brain needs a continuous supply of nutrients, including tryptophan and vitamins B3 and B6, to produce sufficient serotonin and other neurotransmitters.

    Foods that new mothers are recommended to include are

    1. Cottage cheese
    2. Bananas
    3. Spinach
    4. Pineapple
    5. Moong beans
    6. Lentils
    7. Chickpeas/kidney beans
    8. Asparagus
    9. Sunflower seeds
    10. Flaxseed oil
    11. Walnut 
    12. Peanuts
    13. Eggs
    14. Chicken
    15. Salmon
    16. Sardines
    17. Tuna

    Yoga

    Yoga renders mental and physical well-being. Practising Pranayama (Anulom viloma or alternate nostril breathing and bhastrika pranayama) can help balance Vata, which is the main culprit of postpartum depression according to Ayurveda.

    Among the Yoga Asanas,

    • Bhujangasana
    • Uddiyana Bandha Asana
    • Pavanamuktasana
    • Setu Bandhasana
    •  Shavasana

    Conclusion

    Depression can affect the human mind at any point, like a chariot without a driver. But with a little attention and love from her husband and family and proper Ayurvedic post-natal regimens, the mother adapts to the new living environment and gets free from this state of illness soon.

    Let the mothers not wither…Ayurvedic Treatment in Kerala has different health packages to treat postpartum depression. Visit an Ayurvedic Hospital in Kerala to consult a doctor

     

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