The arrival of a newborn baby is often greeted with joy and celebration. However, the reality can be quite different for some people. Mothers can suffer from depression after their delivery. The causes are numerous and varied. The treatments are just as diverse. Massage therapy is one of the most commonly applied treatments, as it is known to improve mood, induce relaxation, and relieve pain.
To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Pacific College of Oriental Medicine’s Massage Therapy program.
Facts About Postpartum Depression
It is estimated that one in seven women will begin to suffer from Postpartum Depression or PPD soon after giving birth. This is a severe condition that should be handled carefully. While it can happen to anyone, some people have a greater likelihood of having it than others. Several risk factors have been identified as key things to watch out for. For instance, those who have experienced it before are likely to go through it again in their next pregnancy. Studies found recurrence to be as high as 70 percent. The causes must be identified and resolved to prevent it from happening again.
Research shows that about 20 percent of women can experience some level of depression or anxiety disorder during or follow their pregnancies. The severity varies from person to person. This is a problem because it can adversely affect women, infants, and the rest of the family. It could also hinder the ability of mother and child to bond during this crucial period. Mothers may not be able to care for their newborn as well as they should. The child’s mental and emotional health could be compromised.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
This condition comes with several noticeable symptoms. They usually emerge within four weeks following childbirth. Consult a doctor immediately if you suspect PPD. Doctors will diagnose the patient and develop a suitable plan of action. Remember that each case is different and that every individual will respond differently to various treatments. Some patients might reject one and welcome another. It is vital to pursue the right approach for each unique situation.
Among the symptoms you should watch out for are panic attacks. The affected person may become more sensitive to certain stimuli and feel alarmed when confronted with a stressful situation. Individuals can suffer from uncontrollable thoughts that worsen their anxieties. It is difficult to be calm when confronted with unceasing negative thoughts. Many are unable to sleep because of this. Their worries are often grounded in reality such as financial difficulties and family problems. Others may deal with it the opposite way, withdrawing from everything and simply sleeping throughout the day.
A lot of the people with PPD say they fear to be alone with the newborn baby. This can stem from deep-seated insecurities. They may be worried that they will be bad mothers to their children. Others exhibit a lack of interest in their family, in their friends, or even in their newborn. There are a few who admit to having disturbing thoughts such as wanting to hurt themselves or their baby. All these can lead to a tremendous amount of guilt. They may be disappointed that they can’t measure up to their perceived standard.
Can Massage Therapy Help Treat PPD?
Although this condition has always existed, it hasn’t been given enough attention until recent years. Different methods of treatment are being explored to help individuals recover from the depression. These address the possible causes of hormonal changes, socio-economic issues, birth-related trauma, unhealthy habits, life stresses, and so on. Appropriate drugs may be prescribed by doctors to restore hormone balance. The family may be encouraged to provide a higher level of emotional and financial support to the mother. The patient may also be induced to relax through ample rest, behavioral therapy, and even massage therapy.
Massage can help relieve physical discomfort. It is known to have a calming effect while easing body pain and promoting blood circulation. This form of treatment can slow down the production of cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. Patients immediately feel better after a session. In one study, researchers found that the cortisol level could drop by as much as 31 percent after conducting this therapy. Several clinical trials have also confirmed that consistent massage can aid in alleviating the effects of depression. It is no wonder then that 15.4 million US adults have used massage therapy for various ailments.
Massage can help individuals suffering from a wide range of health issues. According to researchers, it can aid women with breast cancer boost their immune system. It can also provide relief from symptoms of asthma. People could use it to get things under control and prevent a bad episode. For those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, this type of therapy is effective in reducing the pain and improving grip strength. These are just a few examples of the power of massage therapy.
Massage is Effective for Treating PPD
In a 12-week study, a number of pregnant women underwent massage therapy and joined short yoga sessions. They reported notable reductions in leg and back pain. They also observed decreased feelings of anxiety and depression. In terms of quantitative results, the researchers measured their cortisol levels and found that there was a significant drop in 12 weeks. There was also a reduction in premature birth rates and excessive fetal activity. The therapy was clearly having a positive effect on both mothers and babies. Massage alone may not cure PPD but science seems to confirm that it can be an effective tool in managing the symptoms.
Massage can be used in conjunction with other proven treatment options depending on the situation. Doctors may suggest it along with antidepressant drugs, estrogen therapy, psychotherapy, group therapy, and nurse home visits. This potent combination can help those suffering from postpartum depression to recover quickly and feel much better than before. Mothers are not the only ones who can receive this therapy. There are classes that could teach them all about proper infant massage. By attending this class, they will acquire skills that they can use to form a strong and positive bond with their baby.