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Post-natal depression (PND) is experienced by one in seven women after they give birth and can be debilitating and distressing for the sufferer. The consequences can be far-reaching and affect whole families putting strains on relationships and having adverse consequences on the natural bonding between mother and child. PND is normally worse in the first few months after birth but can be evident up to a year later.
PND is a “non-psychotic” form of depression, meaning that the sufferer does not experience hallucinations or delusions. The most common symptom is the feeling of “having to manage on my own” and a feeling of isolation. Sadly, this can lead to a feeling of helplessness which can escalate into more serious problems such as:
- Insomnia – an inability to sleep or to experience extremely disturb sleep
- Anxiety – a sense of worry, nervousness, or general unease about a situation or circumstance that has an uncertain outcome
- Debility – a physical weakness caused by illness or emotional malaise
Other symptoms include poor concentration, loss of self-confidence and self-esteem, lack of appetite and suicidal thoughts. The latter symptom is infrequent and should be treated by medical professionals at the earliest opportunity.
Homeopathy and Holistic Medicine for PND
It should always be stressed that you should consult medical professionals before embarking on any course of holistic or homoeopathic medicine. This is particularly relevant if your baby was conceived with the help of fertility treatment from a clinic such as First Fertility. Usually, holistic medicine is used in conjunction with more conventional treatments and in rare cases, can cause more harm than good. Here are five homoeopathic remedies that studies suggest can be beneficial for those suffering from PND.
Sepia is probably the most frequently recommended holistic remedy for PND. It is commonly used by women who experience severe sleeplessness and genuine fatigue. These symptoms alone can lead to a feeling of an inability to cope and suffers are usually extremely tearful. The symptoms often create a vicious circle.
Sepia can have substantial and noticeable benefits, especially if the sufferer also adopts some form of physical exercise. Sleep patterns tend to improve, which will inevitably break the circle. The combination of exercise, even if it is only quite moderate, and Sepia can result in rapid improvements.
Lycopodium is frequently recommended for suffers who are experiencing low self-esteem. It is not always the first remedy that homoeopaths opt for and often goes overlooked, but its benefits have been noted in journals. It tends to nullify the feelings of hopelessness and despair, which often leads to reduced crying and an all-round sense of greater wellbeing.
In a similar manner to women who opt to use Sepia, the benefits seem to be more pronounced if exercise is also incorporated. If your partner likes walking or dancing, for instance, she should be encouraged to partake in these activities once again. Low self-esteem may lead to a lack of desire, but a supportive partner will offer emotional and practical support in taking up these activities once again.
Ignatia and Lycopodium are very similar in that they are both plant-based remedies. Ignatia is often recommended for people who are experiencing a wide range of emotional and mental problems. It is common for the woman to experience a combination of symptoms, many of which can be quite contrasting and lead to the women and those around her feeling that they are on an emotional roller-coaster. Impulsive behaviour and mood swings are typically relieved by Ignatia.
Common symptoms that benefit from Ignatia are feelings of guilt, falling below unrealistically high standards and those with romantic notions about motherhood. Often this is in first-time mothers and can lead to feelings of depression. It is common for patients to try to hide their symptoms and have a sense of paranoia. Ignatia, along with compassion and sympathy, tends to have dramatic effects on these symptoms.
Pulsatilla is commonly used by homoeopaths around the world to treat female hormonal problems but is surprisingly often overlooked by practitioners when it comes to PND. It is used to treat many of the same symptoms as Sepia. Pulsatilla often leads to patients feeling better after an episode of weeping, especially if they receive sympathy whereas with Sepia this is rarely the case.
Homoeopaths and holistic medicine specialists have noted that those who experience the most significant benefits from Pulsatilla tend to be those with softer personalities. Typically, they will also exhibit more maternal tendencies which can often complicate their symptoms and make them harder to understand even by experienced professionals. Those who will benefit from Pulsatilla tend to be different from sufferers who benefit from Sepia, and the benefits can be quickly experienced.
Practitioners of holistic medicine will always recommend that the patient, where possible participates in some physical activity. It should be as strenuous as possible as endorphins will be released. These endorphins tend to create more positive moods, and the positive frame of mind will be extremely beneficial. Partners should be supportive as much as possible and even encourage taking part in exercise when the woman had previously shown little interest.
If the female has experienced health issues connected to exercise in the past or maybe has some weight issues, it would be advisable to consult a medical professional or a physio before embarking on any strenuous exercise program.
If you have experienced PND with your first child, this does not necessarily mean that you will experience it with subsequent children. Many factors during the pregnancy can impact on whether you experience PND again, such as the environment where you live and the support you get at home. We would recommend participating in moderate exercise throughout the pregnancy, but you should always consult with your midwife first.
During pregnancy, you could drink chamomile teas as well as bathing in lavender as these are natural remedies that have a calming and soothing effect.
Finally, if you do experience PND, you should remember that you are never alone. Nobody knows how to be a mother immediately, and it is something that we learn through experience. If you do experience PND, you can get help from counselling, holistic and conventional medicine so never be frightened to ask for help.