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Having Trouble Losing Weight After Pregnancy? – Postpartum Depression May Be To Blame

Postpartum depression or PPD is a very common problem that many women deal with after the birth of a child. It can come on very suddenly, or gradually over time, but for most women, the effects leave them wondering how they will cope. After pregnancy, one of the first things that a woman wants to do is lose that extra weight, but if you are suffering with PPD, that may be harder to do than you realize.

PPD Depression Study

Recently, a survey done by the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention (DACP) at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care found out that women were at a higher risk for retaining more weight after childbirth if they had postpartum depression. These extra pounds can lead to a domino effect of later obesity and cardiovascular disease, so researchers have been looking into the problems that women encounter with weight loss post childbirth, hoping to better understand them. There are many ways to solve these problems. We learn from WebMD that,

Aerobic and strength training exercises will help burn calories and keep you healthy along with a nutritional diet. Breastfeeding can also help you lose weight after pregnancy.

One such long-term study of prenatal and postnatal health was Project Viva, where 850 women signed up. Researchers evaluated the women at mid-pregnancy and six months after childbirth utilizing a screening test called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Studying the women’s postpartum weights, researchers used their weight before pregnancy as a baseline. The results were conclusive, women who suffered from postpartum depression were twice as likely to retain 11 pounds or more compared to women who didn’t.

Pregnancy Weight Gain

The authors of the study stressed that more research is needed before they can determine if women can discard the pregnancy weight with better treatment of postpartum depression. This type of depression affects anywhere from 10-15% of new mothers.

Weight is one of those issues that a lot of women are very self critical about. Weight gain can be a determining factor when a woman is deciding on treatments like medications and therapies that can have unintended side effects. Postpartum depression, as well as other types of depression, is often treated with medication, so its influence on weight gain needs to be factored in. If adverse effects like these happen, women might be inclined to stop taking the medication. This can lead to a relapse, even if the meds are actually helping, sending women back into the throes of depression. This can be a dangerous time to stop treatment, so healthcare providers need to discuss this with soon-to-be mothers.

Treatments for PPD

On average, after three months past childbirth, postpartum depression will usually fade away. Of course you should find help if this impedes daily activities at all, or if a particularly bad episode lasts longer than 14 days. For most women, either medication or a mixture of therapy and medication can successfully treat PPD. Exercise can also treat PPD. Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress tells us,

Exercise and good nutrition could definitely help with weight gain and body image and may be enough for some women to have substantial weight loss. These do require a lot of daily effort, and new mothers with PPD should exercise and eat as well as they can…

Exercise releases hormones that can relieve the symptoms of depression. It is very important for new mothers to take care of themselves. Another avenue of assistance may be a local support group. If none of these seem to help or if the depression is too severe, a hospital evaluation may be required. Seeking treatment immediately is the best recommendation.

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