Today I want to talk about a taboo subject. One you are frequently left feeling like you must be quiet about. But I say, be quiet no more.
11 to 20% of women who give birth each year have postpartum depression symptoms. That means someone you see every day likely has suffered from depression symptoms. That means, if you have 5 girlfriends, at least 1 of them has had PPD symptoms.
Post-partum depression symptoms can include a change in mood like anger, anxiety, guilt, or loss of interest and pleasure in activities. You may be saying that is a normal Mom on a day-to-day basis, but let’s get more specific here. It can also include fatigue, loss of appetite, crying, irritability, weight gain or loss and insomnia. PPD can sometimes be even more debilitating than depression because post partum society tells us that, everything should be unicorns and rainbows with our new bundle of never crying or unhappy joy, not living in constant anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. Living with PPD is no small feat, and often times women feel nervous in asking for help. What a lot of women don’t know is that hormonal changes (drop in estrogen and progesterone) in the body caused by childbirth can actually be a major cause in the depression. That it actually has nothing to do with your feelings and the ability to “snap out of it”, but rather, something functional in your body is telling you no. Specifically, thyroid and adrenal glands may be functioning incorrectly. To top that off, a lack of sleep as you transition can be enough to send even the most stable person off the ledge. (I need that 8 hours, ya’ll).
I know not all of us want to go the doctor, or are even scared to. (I am not condoning not to go to a doctor if you are having physical health issues). But I do want to talk about how you can start supporting your basic thyroid and adrenal needs. This is applicable to everyone, but especially women struggling with PPD and it’s symptoms. So… how do we support our glands basic functioning?
1) Get good sleep— everyone says it, but you really do need to sleep when that baby sleeps. No one cares if your house is messy. Catch some zzz’s and push away that guilt. Ask yourself, would you rather a clean house and a depressed Mama, or a messy house with a Mama who feels good about herself and her new bundle? Don’t feel bad in asking your hubs or partner to take shifts with you. They want to see you happy too! Create a routine and try to stick to it as best as possible. Adults need bedtimes too.
2) Eliminating caffeine—ummm, I know you just said no. Maybe you screamed it. Oh, wait, maybe I was just hearing my echo. I mean, I don’t have a problem…so I don’t have to give up coffee, right? They say caffeine is good for you! Tea, coffee, it’s all like anti-aging and full of antioxidants, right? Well, unfortunately not when it comes to supporting your adrenal gland. Sensitivity to caffeine is more common than we think and 1 cup of coffee or tea can affect sleep for up to 48 hours. Lower your consumption and try other caffeine free choices like, hmm, water. Spice it up with lemon and the microwave. Do what you need to do to feel better. But we all need more water in our life, so it’s the perfect swap out. So actually it’s 2a and 2b here, because frequent and sufficient hydration (drinking water) is important.
3) Eat regular, healthy meals—are you guys noticing a pattern here? Didn’t you expect it from the health nut writing this article? Yes. Eat fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains (whole grain as in the whole thing, not the ground up thing-ground “whole grains” are not really whole grains like they depict themselves to be in breads and pastas and the nutrition becomes depleted in them when they are ground) and grass fed meats. Need to start somewhere? Move your three ginormous meals to 6 small ones, and make the snacks in between full of vegetables and nuts. Don’t eat what your great grandma wouldn’t, and definitely don’t eat something you can’t pronounce. Pay attention and read nutrition labels.
4) Exercise—what kind? Really-just do what you want to do. It doesn’t matter. Stop confusing yourself in terms of cardio, HIIT, stretching, lifting, resistance, blah blah blah and start doing things you like that require your body to move. Well when you put it that way…. Any activity is better than none (except for the kind where I dance) so get out and do something. And better yet, find someone you love who will do it with you. Accountability partners, especially those that make you do what you say you are going to do, no flak, make things so much better.
5) Stress management techniques-this is where self-care comes in. Lots of Mamas out there state they feel guilty when they take time for themselves. But let’s shift this perspective. How in the world can you expect to care for all the other awesome people in your life that you are supposed to care for, if you don’t even care for yourself? Take 5 minute increments throughout the day to do something for you. Talk to a friend, write in your journal, listen to music (but don’t ask me to, or I might dance), pray or meditate, find what works for you and make sure it gets added to the to-do list.
6) Consider vitamins and supplements— lots of vitamins and supplements benefit adrenal gland health. The biggest one I can think of is the B vitamin. Look for a b-complex vitamin that is a “B-50” dose, meaning 50 mg of B1, 2, 3 and 6. Also make sure B12 is included. Amino acids, vitamin C, Vitamin D, magnesium, fish oil, 5-HTP (do not take with SSRI medication), licorice and ashwaghanda are all supplements worth considering and researching.
If you have symptoms of PPD and think you may need adrenal and thyroid gland support, contact a naturopath or functional medicine doctor (even if you have already been told your glands are normal) to get support. Also, if you are suffering from the emotional toll of PPD, reach out to a professional who can offer support during your time of struggle. Having a third party involved can often create a safe and vulnerable place for you to feel better in a way you are not able to do so now.
If you would like to chat more, or want nutrition, fitness, and mental health tips and tricks, join Jayci and Heartland Whole Health’s Warriors at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1222268257797927/
*I went to a conference last week led by Dr. Procyk, ND and felt obligated to share some of her information with you in this post. Being informed is something that everyone has the right to. Much of the credit to adrenal and thyroid support can be directed back to Dr. Procyk and what I learned from her in training.*