Taking care of a child is an amazing journey to embark on, but it can also be stressful, confusing, and even lonely. So much attention and energy are given to the baby, and rightfully so, but many moms and parents can often find themselves feeling stressed, depressed, or even neglected.
Depression in New Parents
Becoming a new parent can come with a set of challenges and sometimes moms can develop peripartum depression, also known as postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is the occurrence of depressive symptoms following childbirth, meanwhile, peripartum depression includes depression symptoms that begin during and after pregnancy¹.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, about one in seven women will experience symptoms of peripartum depression. Symptoms of peripartum depression are similar to dysthymia, or persistent depressive disorder. This includes severe feelings of depression that can span several months, making it challenging to complete your mundane, daily activities like showering or eating².
Peripartum depression can not only affect those who have given birth but also other family members. The American Psychiatric Association explains that “children of mothers with peripartum depression are at greater risk for cognitive, emotional, development, and verbal deficits and impaired social skills¹.”
Taking care of your mental health after birth isn’t always easy, but you’re not alone. Here are a few self-care tips for moms and parents to care for their physical and mental well-being.
Stay Connected To Your Community
For parents experiencing anxiety or depression after giving birth, staying inside and disconnecting from others may feel like the comfortable option but it isn’t going to make you feel better. Isolating yourself will only make you feel more stressed and lonelier, so make sure after your initial few weeks alone as a family you begin reaching out to your community again. Your friends and loved ones are there to support you but you have to let them in. You and your family’s mental health will thank you later³.
Ask for Help When You Need It
Admitting when you need help may not be easy, but you can’t and shouldn’t have to manage it all on your own. Not only should you stay connected with your community, but you should also allow yourself to accept help from others and ask when you need it. Also, remember that you can set boundaries and turn down commitments that don’t fit your lifestyle and needs⁴.
Having a child can add a whirlwind of priorities to your already busy schedule. Keeping track of all your upcoming events and tasks with a calendar or planner will help you stay on top of your busy life and minimize stress. If the list of tasks feels overwhelming, complete each one step by step by achieving the highest priority tasks. Some other tasks can wait, as most times it doesn’t all need to be done at once, even if it may feel that way. If you have too hectic of a schedule, it’s worth reanalyzing what can be changed. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out and see if you can delegate tasks to the people in your community⁴.
Focus on Healthy Daily Habits
Caring for another being can be a lot, but you must remember to take care of your well-being as well. It can be easier said than done but aim for daily healthy habits. Some healthy habits to aim for include getting some fresh air, some form of physical activity, eating 3 healthy meals a day, staying hydrated, and getting adequate sleep. Sleep may be your toughest one to achieve for a while with your little one, but don’t neglect it altogether either⁴.
Schedule Time for Yourself
Making time for yourself as a parent can be difficult when you have many competing priorities. One way around this is to schedule time for yourself. It can be tempting to leave your schedule open for when you have free time, but this time will likely be filled with another priority or something less fulfilling than what you want to do. It doesn’t have to be much, but scheduling in time to read or watch your favorite show, attend a fitness or hobby-related class, go out for lunch with a friend, or go on a date night with your partner can all be great ways to make time to feel like yourself and not just a parent. If a nap or a soak in the bath is really what you need though, don’t be afraid to schedule that time in either⁴.
Talk With a Mental Health Professional
Taking care of your mental health is important regardless of who you are, but new moms and parents should especially check in with themselves to see how they’re doing and make adjustments where they can. If you’re struggling and experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety you may benefit from seeking out help from a mental health professional.
Try Ketamine Therapy
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic used to treat physical pain and symptoms of mental health disorders, including treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, and chronic pain⁵. Recent studies have also indicated ketamine therapy can improve symptoms of peripartum depression as well⁶. If other methods haven’t worked to treat your peripartum depression or other mental health symptoms, ketamine therapy may be a viable option for you.
Be Kind to Yourself
Parenting is no easy task and it’s normal to feel negative about it sometimes, but it’s important not to dwell on those feelings. Not everything will go to plan, so try to celebrate the small victories and remember the hard times won’t be forever–they are just hard moments. You are always doing better than you think you are, so remember to be gentle with yourself and don’t set impossible expectations for yourself either³.
Being a parent can be just as challenging as it is rewarding. Take each day at a time and try to implement small steps toward self-care because caring for your well-being is also caring for your family.
Avesta Ketamine and Wellness
At Avesta Ketamine and Wellness, we value your mental health and are committed to improving your well-being, moms and parents alike. Keep reading to learn more about ketamine therapy for peripartum depression.
Contact us to take the next step in prioritizing your mental health.
¹ American Psychiatric Association (n.d.). What Is Postpartum Depression? Retrieved March 3, 2023, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/postpartum-depression/what-is-postpartum-depression
² John Hopkins Hospital (n.d.). Dysthymia. John Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved March 3, 2023, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/dysthymia
³ Kindred Bravely. (2020, January 29). This is self-care: 10 tips for new moms. Kindred Bravely. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://www.kindredbravely.com/blogs/bravely/self-care-tips-new-moms
⁴ Bowe, K. (2021, August 10). Self-care tips for moms. Mayo Clinic Health System. Retrieved March 2, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/self-care-tips-for-moms
⁵ Restorative Health. (n.d.). Ketamine – A Brief History, its Uses, and Possible Future. Restorative Health. Retrieved February 25, 2023, from https://www.restorativehealthprimarycare.com/about/published-articles/history-of-ketamine
⁶ Yao, J., Song, T., Zhang, Y., Guo, N., & Zhao, P. (2020). Intraoperative ketamine for reduction in postpartum depressive symptoms after cesarean delivery: A double-blind, randomized clinical trial. Brain and Behavior, 10(9), e01715. https://doi.org/10.1002/brb3.1715
Photo by Yan Krukau: https://www.pexels.com/photo/cheerful-sportswoman-meditating-in-lotus-pose-with-son-4457982/
Author Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, FAAN Dr. Eshkevari is the lead clinician at Avesta, and is a long time researcher and educator in physiology, biophysics, and anesthesiology. She is passionate about assisting patients with retractable, difficult to treat mood disorders, and relies on the latest research to bring evidence to Avesta’s practice to better understand and serve patients.