Everyone expects the birth of a new child to be a joyous affair. We hold baby showers, send each other cards of congratulations and tie brightly coloured balloons to our beds. There is a level of expectation that we should automatically experience feelings of love and happiness from the moment we give birth. We’ve all seen how perfectly idyllic it can be on TV – it must be true. The upsetting reality for some is that the positive feelings and emotions we anticipated are replaced by an emotional state completely at odds with our expectations. Sadness, exhaustion, low mood and feelings of detachment towards our children, are all common symptoms of postnatal depression and the baby blues.
According to the NHS, 1 in 7 women will experience postnatal depression. A further 85% will experience the less severe but in no way trivial “baby-blues” within the first four to six weeks after birth. The exact cause is still unknown, but it’s likely that a combination of the physical and mental trauma experienced during birth, and the subsequent radical changes to our personal circumstances can all contribute to feelings of despair. Life can be stressful enough but add irregular sleep cycles, the demands of an infant, newfound responsibilities and a hormonal system that’s been catapulted through the air in a washing machine, it’s no wonder things have become unbalanced.
As most psychiatrists’ will tell you, this is all perfectly normal and you will get better. Your old self will return and the joys of being a parent will prevail. As many who have suffered from postnatal depression can testify, this is often of little comfort when you can’t personally see an end to the depression. The human body is remarkably resilient when we can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but take this away and the problem can seem remarkably profound and overwhelming.
So is there anything that can be done to help cope with postnatal depression? There are the standard forms of self-help guidance, cognitive behavioural therapy and of course prescription medications, which may help get us there eventually – but are there any alternatives that can deliver meaningful results more quickly?
Vedic Meditation is a meditative technique that’s becoming increasingly popular in the west due to its beautiful simplicity and its profound results. If your mind is constantly rushing from one thought to the next, Vedic Meditation can help transcend this activity, de-excite the mind and take it to a very settled state.
Research has shown that during just 20 minutes of meditation the body is able to rest 2-5 times deeper than the deepest point in sleep. In this place of quiet, the body can start to heal itself from the cellular level, allowing our body’s natural creative intelligence to take over and all parts of the body to start working in harmony.
A study put together by Dr Dennis, a world-renown cognitive psychologist and depression specialist at CAMH, has already shown meditation to be as effective as antidepressant medication.
“For women at risk, meditation is definitely of value. It’s a non-pharmacological means of prevention and should be offered in addition to other parenting classes and skills”
Vedic meditation can revert our hormonal system back to what nature intended. It helps our mind synthesise and distribute the correct amounts of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline. By calming our often overstimulated nervous system, stress and anxiety are also vastly reduced. The deep rest gained from Vedic meditation leaves us feeling rejuvenated and much more capable of coping with fatigue and irregular sleep patterns. Our mood begins to improve, it becomes more stable, enabling us to realise all the inner strength and self-esteem that’s been hiding away inside of us.
It can also be of benefit to expectant mothers, acting as a preventative measure against postnatal depression.
A study by Dr Cassandra Vieten from the California Pacific Medical Centre Research Institute looked at the effects of meditation on prenatal stress and mood, demonstrating a 20-25 per cent reduction in stress levels and anxiety in pregnant women.
While the battle with postnatal depression is never easy, practising Vedic meditation is remarkably simple. The only side effects are positive and it’s been proven to help in a wonderful variety of ways.
About the Author: Will Williams is the founder of Will Williams Meditation in London.
If you think you may be suffering from post-natal depression, it is advised to first get in contact with your primary health care provider or GP.
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