Benefits of Yoga for Postpartum Depression

Yoga is known for it’s amazing mood boosting and stress reducing benefits.

Using yoga for postpartum depression can help to improve your overall mood and well-being.  Adding yoga into a regular self-care routine is a simple change that can make a big difference.  Since it is a low-impact way to exercise, it can be safe for mothers who are pregnant or recovering from childbirth.  It’s also a great exercise to do with children or babies around because they love to watch and sometimes even follow along.

In this guest post from Meera Watts of SiddhiYoga.com, you can learn about all the amazing benefits of yoga for postpartum depression.

yoga for postpartum depression *This is a guest post and all opinions are those of the author.  Please note that this post may contain affiliate links*


There are a variety of benefits yoga has displayed. It has been used for centuries for good reason. Instead of using prescription medications, there was the development of yoga to manage physical and mental problems. So it is that yoga can help us in the modern world with depression, stress, and mindfulness.

You are more prone to nurturing yourself when you create body awareness and of course mind awareness. You won’t beat yourself up anymore and let your ego dictate how you’ll feel. Yoga is a deeply grounding practice that brings out your truths. As your heart opens more and you learn about who you really are, you’ll have a profound sense of self. This can only create a place of self-love.

Here are the benefits of yoga for postpartum depression that you might not know about.

Harvard released the suggestion after a recent controlled trial study that yoga can help with the following:

• Reduction of the impact of stress in your daily life.
• Assists with anxiety and depression.
• Teaches you to self-soothe yourself with techniques like meditation, relaxation, and through the exercise aspect of the practice.
• Energy is improved.

Yoga and Depression

The physical things in yoga will have your body moving in all sorts of directions. You get a gentle workout, a core workout, and learn to breathe properly. Then, you’ll do meditation. Yoga teaches you a lot and taps into your mind, body and soul. It can be helpful with depression and the symptoms. For example, yoga helps you to concentrate and helps you with your energy levels. These are common problems of depression that are solved through yoga.

Yoga helps you to manage any mental and emotional problems you’re dealing with. Conditions and disorders that can lead to depression such as chronic pain can be relieved.

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Improve Your Mood

The reason we experience things like depression and anxiety is due to unbalanced levels of certain chemicals in the brain. Serotonin is something that makes us happy and gives us energy. When we don’t have enough, we can feel down. Yoga naturally helps to increase serotonin levels. Yoga is gentle so even if a person does feel low, they can go to a class and get the nurturing benefits. The fluid nature of the moves you do can evoke a nice feeling. As your body moves, you become more conscious of that instead of how you feel emotionally.

Warrior poses can make you feel powerful. That is not a feeling that someone with depression usually feels. You will also concentrate on your breathing which can bring you more energy.

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Reducing Stress and Anxiety

Yoga works to increase your heart rate. Through breathing and encouraging blood to flow better with poses, it can change time between heartbeats. The relaxation response will dominate over the stress response in the body. The body gets better at monitoring itself and fighting against stress. It also reduces levels of cortisol that are released in the body. When you do get anxious, you cause the body to overproduce this chemical. When you have too much in the body, it can cause damage to the mind and body.

Yoga lowers your blood pressure and makes it easier to breathe. When you learn how to do deep breathing in yoga, you can immediately relax yourself. You also increase your pain tolerance by reducing stress. Stress has been shown to lower your pain tolerance.

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Yoga and Mindfulness

A big part of yoga is learning to be mindful. This is the key to solve any negative feelings you have. As you learn to just observe the ego mind instead of going down to its level, you can manage any storm. It is the ego that says you’re not good enough, that you can’t do something, or that there’s something to worry about. Almost nothing it tells you has any true purpose and it can lead you to feel extremely angry, sad, anxious, or afraid.The funny thing is, the ego is basing it’s reality on your past situations. Say you’re triggered by a smell, this is the ego searching for an experience that occurred with a relate-able scent. If the memory is a good one, you feel happy. If it’s a bad memory, it can make you feel instantly terrible.

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Mindfulness is being aware of the emotional pain or the physical pain that manifests in you when these things happen. You may not be able to remember what happened when you were five that created sadness from a smell. You can scan your body and be aware of what the brain is saying. Even just witnessing your thoughts can calm the rest of your body down.

Your ego doesn’t have a chance to berate you. When you’re kinder to yourself, you are less likely to do things like emotionally eat or get angry at people who don’t deserve it. Medical studies and scientific research say that meditation and mindfulness has neurological benefits. Yoga works on the body and through the breath to create a centered mind within you. Stress is decreased and so is depression. You will experience a higher quality of life with that open heart you’ve created. Then you’re not prone to fear and self-doubt.

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Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh and Dharamshala) and Indonesia (Bali).

For more information, view her website at www.siddhiyoga.com and follow her on social media.

Youtube | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook


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Online-Therapy.com

Online-Therapy.com:  Access yoga videos as part of the online therapy toolbox as well as several other ways to get help for postpartum depression.

Yoga for postpartum depression

Physical Symptoms of Postpartum Depression That Will Surprise You

Despite being considered a mental illness, there are several physical symptoms of postpartum depression that can also plague mothers.  Often, the physical symptoms are mistaken as a condition of something else, both by mothers themselves and by health care providers.

The physical symptoms of postpartum depression aren’t discussed as often as the mental or emotional ones.  Therefore, many mothers with postpartum depression report feeling like hypochondriacs and find themselves constantly googling their symptoms online to find out what is causing them to feel so physically ill.

It’s important to rule out anything else, but it’s just as important to make mothers aware that postpartum depression can cause physical pain.

Here is a breakdown of some of the physical symptoms of postpartum depression.

*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.  **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.


Common Physical Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

There are a few physical symptoms of postpartum depression that are common knowledge and almost all sufferers will experience at some point.

Exhaustion and Fatigue – Many mothers will say they didn’t notice they were experiencing fatigue because, well… they’re moms.  And if you’re not exhausted 99% of the day, are you even a mother? But the exhaustion and fatigue caused by postpartum depression goes far beyond the normal tiredness that all mothers experience.

Try tracking how much sleep you’re getting each night.  If it’s a decent amount but you’re still exhausted all day, then you could be experiencing fatigue.

Appetite Changes – This is another one that is commonly missed by mothers.  We are often too busy taking care of the kids to eat or sometimes just forget.  And then we binge eat after the kids go to bed because we haven’t eaten anything all day.  Those aren’t appetite changes…

Appetite changes due to postpartum depression are much more extreme.  An aversion to food altogether is common, but so is non-stop eating.  And this all depends on our personalities.  For some people, it’s hard to eat when they feel sad or stressed.  For others, eating is comforting and makes them feel better.

One way to stay on top of the appetite changes is to watch for weight fluctuations.  A sudden and drastic increase or decrease in weight can signal that postpartum depression has taken a toll on a person’s appetite.

Sleep Problems – This is a physical symptom that can go either way.  Many women cannot sleep at all (insomnia) and others want to sleep all day long (hypersomnia).  This also depends on the individual personality but if a woman has anxiety as well as depression, they are more likely to experience insomnia.  Sleeping pills can help, but there are natural sleep options as well.  Or, try switching to a better mattress.  There are some that you can test one out for a full year to see if it makes a difference.

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Physical Symptoms Caused By Stress

In addition to the more common physical symptoms of postpartum depression, many women experience pain caused by stress.  Stress is a big trigger for symptoms of depression, and as long as stress is a factor in your life, you can expect to have constant mental and physical pain.

Back/Neck/Joint PainTension caused by stress puts a lot of extra pressure on the bones and joints in the body.  When stressed out we tend to tighten up, raise our shoulders, hunch our backs and hang our heads, which isn’t the way our bones and muscles are supposed to work.  In addition to tension-related pain, many sufferers of postpartum depression experience bodily pains due to the large amount of time spent in bed plus a lack of exercise.  Massage therapy or a low-impact exercise such as yoga can help to relieve some of the pain.

Headaches/Migraines – Chronic headaches and migraines are also a result of stress and the overall drop in healthy habits.  Without the right diet, exercise or fresh air intake, they are almost unavoidable.  Tension headaches caused by stress can be a regular occurrence.  Certain medications can also cause headaches (or withdrawals from medications)Essential oil blends that are specially developed for migraines are a better alternative to taking medication on a regular basis.

Nausea and Digestion ProblemsStress can have quite an impact on the digestive system.  That feeling of knots in the stomach is not just in the head – it’s literal.  Stress and anxiety can cause nausea and constipation or diarrhea.  A poor diet, different medications and a lack of exercise can also result in slower digestion.  It can take a while to get your digestive system back on track with everything going on, so it’s a good idea to supplement with a digestive enzyme and use essential oil blends for nausea.

Teeth Grinding/Jaw Pain – Stress, anxiety and insomnia can cause severe jaw pain (TMD) from teeth grinding at night.  Teeth grinding can also cause headaches and dental problems. Using a dental guard can help protect your teeth and reduce jaw pain from clenching and grinding while you sleep.

Chest PainAny type of chest pain should always be checked out by a doctor –  don’t automatically assume that your chest pain is a symptom of postpartum depression or anxiety.  However, if you’ve ruled out the chance of any other condition, it’s very possible that your chest pain is caused by stress from postpartum depression or anxiety.  Chest pain can be a sign of a panic attack, muscle atrophy, dehydration or malnutrition.

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Physical Symptoms Caused By Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal imbalances can cause a lot of physical symptoms in women with postpartum depression.  It’s important to get your hormone levels checked and make sure that there isn’t another underlying problem that is causing your hormone levels to be out of balance (such as a thyroid problem).  Pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause significant changes in hormone levels.  It may take a long time after giving birth for the hormones to regulate, and during that time you can expect several different physical symptoms.

Hair Loss – postpartum hair loss is extremely common with the change of hormone levels after birth.  If you’re experiencing hair loss long after the postpartum period is over, then it could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance.  There are specially formulated hair growth supplements for women with hormonal imbalances that can help your hair stay healthy during the battle with postpartum depression.

Acne – Having hormones that are out of balance is like being a teenager all over again.  Adult acne is a symptom of sudden changes in hormone levels and is a common complaint of pregnant and postpartum women.  You may need to consider adding an oil free cleanser or blemish treatment to your self-care routine.

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Dizziness/Lightheadedness – Changes in hormone levels can cause women to experience bouts of dizziness and lightheadedness.  This can also be a symptom of a poor diet and lack of fresh air caused by depression.

Menstrual Changes – This can be a difficult symptom to track for postpartum women.  It’s not unusual for women to experience irregular periods after giving birth, especially while breastfeeding.  But even exclusive breastfeeding isn’t a guarantee of avoiding periods and ovulation.

With a hormonal imbalance, women with postpartum depression may experience drastic changes in their menstrual cycle, such as painful periods or ovulation and severe PMS.  Specialty essential oil blends can help treat the symptoms of PMS naturally.  Alternatively, some may experience symptoms similar to menopause such as hot flashes, infertility, irregular or missed periods and spotting.

It’s still important to report these changes to  your doctor, though, as you could be suffering from something more severe – such as fibroids or endometriosis.  Regardless of what is causing the irregular menstrual cycles, there are natural supplements available to help regulate them.

Subscribing for a Blume box can make this symptom much easier to deal with.

DrynessDry skin, dry eyes and vaginal dryness are symptoms of an estrogen, progesterone or testosterone deficiency.  While not a big problem on their own, in combination with some of the other physical symptoms of postpartum depression, it can become a nuisance.

Reduced or non-existent sex drive low or fluctuating testosterone levels can result in a low libido for women with postpartum depression.  But even with balanced hormone levels, sex is normally the last thing on the mind of an exhausted and struggling mother.  There are different homeopathic libido boosters available that can help despite the imbalanced hormones.

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One of the most surprising physical symptoms of postpartum depression…

A Weakened Immune System

It’s surprising but also it’s not.  A woman with postpartum depression isn’t eating right, exercising or sleeping enough.  They’re unlikely to get out of the house very often so they’re deprived of fresh air and sunshine.  They wouldn’t be exposed to enough of the world’s bacteria to build up an immunity to it (even worse if they suffer from postpartum OCD).

It should actually be no surprise that a woman with postpartum depression will get sick more often due to a weakened immune system.  Being prone to illness can, in turn, increase a woman’s anxiety and tendency to believe that something else is wrong with them.

It can take months or even years before the signs of a weakened immune system start to show, and even longer to build it back up.  There are natural ways to boost your immune system despite all the side effects of postpartum depression.

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Mental illness can have an effect on all parts of a person’s life.  A lot of the time, the illness is invisible and therefore, women with postpartum depression fly under the radar because they aren’t “sick enough.”  In fact, many of the physical symptoms listed here are often blamed on something else, rather than recognized as an actual symptom of postpartum depression.  By treating the mental aspects of postpartum depression, which includes (but is not limited to) online therapy, eliminating stress, eating right and exercising – a lot of the physical symptoms will also get better.

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A Mother’s Guide to Postpartum Rage

Are you even a mother if you’re not constantly yelling at your kids for something?  Getting mad at your kids or spouse is one thing, but postpartum rage is something entirely different.

Mothers who find themselves suffering from episodes of postpartum rage may feel like they are just unable to handle the everyday challenges of motherhood.  Or perhaps they believe it’s a sign of trouble in their marriage and relationships.  Maternal mental health disorders can have a tricky way of making mothers feel like they are failing.  And postpartum rage is one of the scariest tricks yet.

A Mother's Guide to Postpartum Rage

*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. **Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.


What is Postpartum Rage?

As the term suggests, it is classified as feelings of uncontrollable anger in a mother who has recently given birth.  Usually set off by something insignificant (but also triggered by valid reasons), episodes of postpartum rage come on very suddenly and escalate quickly.  They are generally out-of-character for most women and can be especially frightening to those around her.

In most cases, women do not get violent, but because postpartum rage is uncontrollable, it can manifest in violent ways such as throwing or breaking things, swearing, screaming or threatening to do something worse.

Postpartum rage stems from maternal mental health disorders such as postpartum depression, anxiety or OCD.  Similar to anger management problems, postpartum rage is caused by an underlying issue that makes it difficult to control feelings of anger.

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Rage vs. Anger

It’s called postpartum RAGE for a reason.  It’s more than just anger or getting upset over something valid.  It’s not deep-sighs of frustration or disappointment.  It’s not “mom’s upset because we didn’t put our toys away.”  It’s full-blown, blood-boiling, fist-clenching rage.  How do you know if you’re suffering from postpartum rage and not just a hot temper?

  • Reacting quickly and passionately over small things (like a spilled drink)
  • Heart races and blood pressure rises when you start to get upset
  • You cannot stop thinking bad thoughts about someone who wronged you
  • Feeling violent urges or imagining doing something violent to yourself or someone else
  • Screaming or swearing
  • Punching or throwing things
  • Unable to “snap out of it” and needing someone else to intervene
  • Inability to remember everything that happened during the outburst of rage
  • Immediately feeling regret or a flood of emotions afterwards
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Postpartum Rage + Postpartum Depression (PPD)

If you’ve ever heard the expression “depression is anger turned inwards” then a link between postpartum depression and postpartum rage makes perfect sense.  Sufferers of postpartum depression are usually seen as having very little energy, lethargic, sad and quiet.  In many ways, the opposite of what we imagine when we hear the word “rage.”

Anger is actually a very common symptom of depression.  Postpartum depression brings with it a lot of guilt and feelings of self-loathing or hatred.  Mothers with postpartum depression tend to bottle up a lot of these unpleasant feelings.  All of those bottled up emotions can, and will, eventually come out, often in the form of postpartum rage.

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Postpartum Rage + Postpartum Anxiety (PPA)

This is perhaps the most common combination of postpartum rage.  Postpartum anxiety causes a mother to be worried, overwhelmed, and feel out of control, which easily opens the door to postpartum rage.

Postpartum anxiety can create situations of distrust and paranoia, which feeds the postpartum rage.  The more situations a mother is placed in where she feels out of control or overwhelmed, the more opportunities postpartum rage has to prey on her soul.  What’s worse is that simply knowing she is prone to postpartum rage can make her mental state much worse.

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Postpartum Rage + Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (PPOCD)

Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is similar to postpartum anxiety in that it leads a new mother to worry quite regularly.  The difference is that with PPOCD, mothers become obsessed about doing something to the point where they can barely function if it isn’t done.  For some women, it’s obsessively cleaning the house, washing their hands or bathing baby, but it can be any kind of obsessive behavior.

If a mother is unable to perform these tasks, it can lead her into a state of postpartum rage due to a loss of control.

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Postpartum Rage + Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Stress is known to have all kinds of detrimental effects on the mind and body.  Many mothers who suffered from PTSD after a traumatic pregnancy or delivery can develop postpartum rage.  This can stem from any resentment they may hold toward their experience.  They may feel sorry for themselves and be unable to move past the traumatic events.  Or, mothers with PTSD may feel hostile towards the doctors, nurses or anyone else who she believes may have contributed to her bad experience.

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How to Manage Postpartum Rage

Step 1: Remove yourself from the situation

As soon as you realize that you’ve lost control – walk away.  It’s important to tell your spouse or partner what you’re going through so that they can intervene if necessary.  Find or create a safe space in your home that you can escape to.

Step 2: Calm down

Take deep breaths, do some yoga, have a drink of water, get some fresh air.  Do whatever you need to do in order to calm yourself down and regain control again.  Sniffing some calming essential oils are a great way to calm yourself down quickly.

Step 3: Find another outlet for your anger

Anger is an important emotion and while you want to keep the postpartum rage under control, it’s imperative that you find another way to express it.  Exercise is a great way to burn off all the pent up energy, or you could focus it towards something creative.

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How to Prevent Postpartum Rage

Ask for help

Postpartum rage can get out of control very quickly.  Don’t wait for someone to ask you if you’re alright.  Make sure that your spouse or partner knows to get involved if you lose control, even (and especially) if it makes the rage worse.  There are also counselors, online therapists and support groups available for you to talk to.

You can find more information about how online therapy can help on BetterHelp.com

Postpartum Depression Survival Guide Free Resource Library
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Get this FREE printable PDF Quick Reference Guide of National Crisis Support Numbers in the Running in Triangles Free Resource Library, available exclusively to subscribers of the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide. Click here to subscribe.

Treat the underlying cause

Since postpartum rage is a symptom of a bigger issue, it’s important to establish a treatment plan to get your maternal mental health back in good shape.  Supplement your existing treatment plan with stress-relieving practices like yoga, acupressure or aromatherapy.

Online Therapy
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Track your moods

Keeping track of your moods can help you to avoid an episode of postpartum rage.  By tracking the fluctuations in your mood on a regular basis, you can start to notice any specific patterns or triggers that cause you additional stress.  Download a printable monthly mood tracker and keep it somewhere easily accessible so that you remember to track your mood each day.

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Let it go

Stop holding grudges against people who have hurt or offended you.  Let things that have happened in the past remain there.  Dwelling on a bad situation will only encourage that rage, so learn to just let it all go.  Practicing yoga or meditation, or writing things out can be a great way to release those feelings and let them go.

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Replace rage with laughter

Anytime you feel like bursting out in a fit of rage, just start laughing instead.  Yes, you will look like a crazy person – white walls, straight-jacket, insane asylum crazy person.  Laughter can release that built up energy in the same way that rage can, but it’s less frightening and makes you feel something positive instead.  Laughter really is the best medicine.

Avoid stressful situations

Stress is a big trigger for episodes of postpartum rage.  Try to avoid being put into stressful situations. If it’s the bedtime routine that stresses you out, then maybe it’s time to start sleep training – or have someone else put the kids to bed.  Stay away from online mom groups that discuss controversial topics and choose a support group instead.  You may need to re-evaluate your job, financial situation and/or relationships to see what is causing your stress and find ways to make it better.

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Postpartum rage can be a terrifying thing to deal with.  It’s often misdirected towards spouses or children and can have an effect on those relationships.  It’s important to understand that postpartum rage is a symptom of something bigger and make sure that your loved ones know that as well.  The more everyone understands about maternal mental health issues, the easier it will be to recover from them and the less damage it will do to our lives.

If you find yourself suffering from regular outbursts of postpartum rage, make sure to speak to your doctor about them, even if you are already taking anti-depressants or some other form of treatment.  Certain medications can make postpartum rage worse, so you may need to experiment with what works for you.

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Additional Resources

Books:

Body Full of Stars: Female Rage and My Passage into Motherhood by Molly Caro May.  [Purchase it at Chapters or Amazon]

Articles:

The Scariest Symptom of Postpartum Depression – The Seleni Institute

Postpartum Rage: When You Start to Lose Control – Mothering.com

We Need to Talk About Postpartum Rage – And Why it Happens – Mother.ly

Anger Management: 10 Tips to Tame Your Temper – Mayo Clinic

Mental Health and Anger Management – WebMD