Postpartum Depression (PPD) and Exercise

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), returning to physical activity after pregnancy can decrease the incidence of Postpartum Depression (PPD). But it will only decrease is the exercise is stress relieving and not stress provoking. So make sure you schedule exercise into your routine!

Factors that contribute to PPD:

  1. Feeling tired after delivery, broken sleep patterns, and not enough rest often keeps a new mother from regaining her full strength for weeks.
  2. Low thyroid levels can cause symptoms of depression including depressed mood, decreased interest in things, irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, and weight gain. A simple blood test can tell if this condition is causing a woman’s depression. If so, thyroid medicine can be prescribed by a doctor.
  3. Feeling overwhelmed with a new, or another, baby to take care of and doubting your ability to be a good mother.
  4. Feeling stress from changes in work and home routines. Sometimes, women think they have to be “super mom” or perfect, which is not realistic and can add stress.
  5. Having feelings of loss — loss of identity of who you are, or were, before having the baby, loss of control, loss of your pre-pregnancy figure, and feeling less attractive.
  6. Having less free time and less control over time. Having to stay home indoors for longer periods of time and having less time to spend with the your partner and loved ones.

What are symptoms of depression? Any of these symptoms during and after pregnancy that last longer than two weeks are signs of depression:

  1. Feeling restless or irritable
  2. Feeling sad, hopeless, and overwhelmed
  3. Crying a lot
  4. Having no energy or motivation
  5. Eating too little or too much
  6. Sleeping too little or too much
  7. Trouble focusing, remembering, or making decisions
  8. Feeling worthless and guilty
  9. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  10. Withdrawal from friends and family
  11. Having headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations (the heart beating fast and feeling like it is skipping beats), or hyperventilation (fast and shallow breathing)

After pregnancy, signs of depression may also include being afraid of hurting the baby or oneself and not having any interest in the baby.

PLEASE seek medical attention immediately if you have any symptoms of depression.

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