It's important to have ways to cope with PPD, anxiety, and panic attacks. I do not know what I would have done if others would not have shared with me some ways to cope with all of this. My suggestions are as follows:
1. OPEN UP TO SOMEONE- It is very important to open up to others in order to get help. If you keep everything inside, no one is going to know what you are going through and it will be very tough to get the help you need. You MUST open up to someone you trust. You need to share with them your true feelings regardless of how painful they are. You have to remember that your "feelings and thoughts" are not your own. Share these feelings and thoughts with someone else and make sure they are aware of what you are going through.
2. SUPPORT- Without support it is going to be very difficult to make it through these issues. Open up to your spouse about how you are feeling. Make sure he understands. If you feel that opening up to your husband is too tough, find someone you can trust. I never had one person look at me badly after sharing with them what I was going through. They gave me ideas and support...which is just what I needed. I had people texting me checking on me. They called and would ask if there was anything they could do. They volunteered to watch my son if needed, and most of all, they were praying for me (and still are). You need to build a network of support for yourself. This can include friends, family, doctors, pastors, etc. Make sure you seek out positive support that will help guide you in the right direction. The last thing you need are people who are going to give you negative ways of handling everything.
3. CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR- If your depression/anxiety has lasted more than 2-3 weeks after having your baby, make sure you contact your doctor. Believe it or not, PPD and regular depression are more common than you think. Your doctor will not think you are crazy nor will he or she be ready to put you in an asylum; they will be ready to help. They may decide that medication would be beneficial or they may send you to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. Make sure you follow their recommendations. Don't feel bad if you have to take medication for a temporary period of time. Realize that your hormones and chemical levels in your body have been thrown way out of whack and that sometimes it takes medication to help balance things out until your body does it on its own. Just because you see the doctor or start taking medication does not mean that you will have to continue doing these things forever.
4. EDUCATE YOURSELF- Make sure you get some information on PPD and educate yourself. Read some books (like the ones I suggested on my blog page) that will help you see that others have gone through PPD as well and that there is a way out. Learn ways to decrease your stress and increase your happiness. Reading someones story can be very therapeutic. It was for me. Help educate your spouse and those around you as well. If you find a book to be helpful, share it with them. This will make it easier for them to understand what you are going through.
5. TAKE BREAKS- You need to realize that you are only human. You get tired and you need a break like everyone else. Be willing to allow trusted family members or friends to take the baby for a few hours or overnight so that you can relax and get some rest. Your baby can sense your stress and moods, so give yourself a break so that you can be a better mom for your baby. Don't feel bad about taking a break, realize that it's a way to give your baby more of yourself.
6. DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF- This is sometimes difficult, but you have to realize that not everything is a priority. If you have committed to too many things, choose what you should stop doing so that you can spend time with your baby and have the down time you need. Also, don't fret about needing to wash bottles, do laundry, clean the house, etc. That stuff will always be there. Do what you can, and what you cannot get to, realize that there is always tomorrow and no one cares if you have dirty dishes in your sink! Talk with your spouse about helping if you are feeling overwhelmed. This is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of knowing what you can handle and instead of overdoing it, you will do what you can do and then BE DONE!
7. PRAY- If you are having feelings of inadequacy, start praying. Ask the Lord to help you cast down those thoughts. Any time a negative thought comes to mind, cast it down and realize that those thoughts are not from you. Ask God to give you strength and peace. If you are experiencing panic attacks, ask the Lord to calm your body and mind and ask for peace. He will give it to you!
8. READ YOUR BIBLE- It is important to use the Word as a weapon against all of these things attacking your mind and your body. Search for Scriptures that deal with joy, peace, and a sound mind. Use these Scriptures when your body and mind are trying to tell you that you can't do this or you don't want to do this. Search for Scriptures dealing with depression and use them as you deal with everything that is keeping you down.
9. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE- It is very important to venture out of the house at least one time per day. Not only does it give you a fresh breath of air, it also allows you to get some sunlight which can help with depression. Even if your time outside of the house is just a walk around the block, it is better than nothing. If you are home with the baby alone and cannot leave, open up the curtains and the blinds and let some sunlight in. Turn on the lights in your home to brighten the room. Step outside and just take in some fresh air for a few minutes. Just leaving the home can give you a boost!
10. LISTEN TO POSITIVE MUSIC- Find songs that are uplifting and encouraging to help lift your spirits. Listen to music while you are cleaning or driving down the road. I prefer Christian and Gospel music and it has helped a lot. You may just listen to the music and relax, or you may choose to use this time to worship the Lord. Remember, God inhabits the praises of his people. When you are praising and worshipping Him, He will be right there with you helping to lift you up.