7 things you can do right now if you’re suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety

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If you suspect you may have more than the baby blues – any feelings of anxiety or depression that you aren’t sure you can easily handle yourself – the first step is asking for help. Don’t hesitate. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD), as the general category of afflictions is now called, is a real medical condition. It’s not your fault, it’s not your imagination and it can be treated effectively.

But it can take a few days to get in to see your doctor or a mental health professional. In the meantime, here are 7 things you can do right now to help yourself:

  1. Get as much sleep as possible: Sleep can be hard to come by with a new baby. Nap when the baby naps, and let your partner know you need some support to take a break. If you’re a single mom, reach out to any family or friends for respite.
  2. Join a support group online: This will quickly connect you with people who are dealing with similar emotions. It’s not a substitute for the personal, professional help you may need, but it will validate that what you’re feeling is real, and will help you to feel less alone. Here’s one resource.
  3. Exercise: Take a walk or find exercise videos online that you can do at home.
  4. Relax: Do some simple meditation or breathing exercises, or try yoga. Many websites have instructions on how to begin meditating or doing yoga.
  5. Take time for yourself: Spend whatever time you can doing something you enjoy. Taking part in activities that make you happy will help you recharge.
  6. Spend time with other adults: Contact and conversations with adult friends and relatives, even for only a short period of time, are vital.
  7. Eat a healthy diet: Shortly after giving birth, many women become deficient in several essential nutrients. Make sure you’re eating several balanced meals a day, filled with proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.
    Kimberly Bell, Ph.D. Hadden Clinic at Hanna Perkins Center

    Kimberly Bell, Ph.D.
    Hadden Clinic at Hanna Perkins Center

If you feel your symptoms need immediate attention, don’t hesitate to go to your local emergency room or call 911.

Image courtesy of Douglas John/