Five Tips for Recovering from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Postpartum depression and anxiety are still the number one complications of childbirth, withnearly one in five women experiencing a serious mental health challenge following the birth ofa baby. Fortunately, after years of efforts, the stigma around seeking help is beginning tolessen, and the help available to those who suffer has increased, with many resources available. This article is a quick summary of what we have learned are the tried-and-true tips that can best help someone who might be suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety. If you arenot sure if this applies to you, here is a link to a list of symptoms to check out. The following is a brief but important list of things you can do to reduce symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety and be the parent you know you can be.

1.  Attend to your rest and sleep. Although most people roll their eyes when they hear it, rest and sleep really are essential to mental health wellness and recovery. You don’t have to always sleep when the baby sleeps, but you should make a plan for at least a five hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep every day. It is not enough to get five hours total for most people, but a stretch of five hours can help you have the most restorative sleep with the best chance of feeling rested. Remember that childbirth is rigorous and you need to recover physically as well as manage the stress of parenting. Simply put, sleep is essential.

2.  Make a plan for help and support after bringing the baby home. Whether you are in a partnership or not, nobody should be alone after having a baby. Calling a family member, a friend, a neighbor, or a paid helper like a doula or baby nurse are all options when you’ve just started your new life with a baby. What is support? It is whatever you feel you need help with. Help with meals, cleaning and chores are often at the top of the list, but so is help with the baby so that you can shower, rest, and have a few moments to yourself. More traditional cultures around the world do a better job of creating “a village” than the typical American family, something we can all learn from and seek to create.

3.  Once you have been cleared by your medical professional, move your body. Mild to moderate exercise has been found to be as effective as many anti-depressant medications, and is an important part of mental health care. Moderate exercise is usually defined as 30-45 minutes of a slightly elevated heart rate, such as you might get from a walk around the neighborhood, trail, or gym. But any movement at all can help, so if it’s just a ten-minute stretch, yoga class, or dance break, start with that.

4.  Practice stress-reducing activities such as journaling, art, meditation and mindfulness, including getting out in nature. Anything that reduces stress and adds the potential for peace or joy to your life is important. When you have symptoms of depression and anxiety you may not feel like doing anything fun, but most people report that it helps a little to try even if you don’t feel like it. Calming activity reduces the heart rate, lowers stress chemicals in the body, and can be an opportunity to breathe deeply and relax.

5.  Speak up about your symptoms and ask for help. Having someone to talk to while you are going through postpartum depression and anxiety is extremely important, and often very helpful and a key component to healing. Sometimes people get better with talk therapy and self-care alone, and sometimes people need medications and other treatments to help reduce symptoms. There is no shame in finding the care that works best for you. You do not have to be miserable to reach out for help, as many have found counseling to be an effective preventive measure. However, if you are having reoccurring thoughts about death or dying or suicide, please reach out for help immediately, and contact your medical provider or go to the nearest emergency room. If you would like to try a therapy appointment with someone who knows about postpartum depression and anxiety and has specialized training and experience with it, please reach out to us at CPFH to set up an appointment. Our receptionist can answer your questions and match you with the right therapist for you, or you can reach out to us at