We all know that exercise is a very important component when it comes to physical health, but what is the connection between exercise and depression relief?
When we exercise, it isn’t only a means to stretch and tone muscle groups and cut down on excess fat formation; exercise has a profound impact on hormone levels—particularly cortisol and serotonin.
To a new mom experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, words like “cortisol” and “serotonin” may not mean much, but they actually play a key role in depression.
Cortisol vs. Serotonin
Cortisol is sometimes called the “depression hormone,” likely because it seems to show up when symptoms of depression become evident. In women who have recently given birth, it is not surprising to see signs of postpartum depression as well as elevated levels of cortisol in the blood. High levels of cortisol are pretty common late in a pregnancy, although these levels typically drop during delivery. Although there is a definite correlation between increased levels of cortisol and postpartum depression, the cause behind such an elevation after giving birth is still unclear.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter tasked with the important role of carrying messages from the brain to different parts of the nervous system. If there is not enough serotonin in the body to relay these messages efficiently, the sufferer can become anxious or depressed. Serotonin reuptake inhibitor medication can help keep serotonin in the synapses for longer periods of time, which can give a mood boost. The results of this medication vary and are not always effective at treating postpartum depression.
Exercise can help naturally regulate these crucial hormones and may not require the aid of medication. This is great news for breastfeeding mothers who worry about the effects of medication on their infant, or those women who simply prefer a natural approach.
Another important effect of exercise for a mom struggling with post partum depression is a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. It is easy for a new mother to feel trapped in her post-pregnancy body. Mom might find stores of fat in places where she never had trouble before. She might also feel like her body is less attractive, which can in turn result in lower self esteem and even a drop in her self confidence.
A steady workout routine will not only have mom feeling much better about herself, but she will also get her pre-pregnancy body back much more quickly! The sense of satisfaction and a healthy routine that she can rely upon can also serve as a “rock” in times when life has become a little hectic and unpredictable.
When it comes to new mothers and exercise, one of the most common excuses for not exercising is that they can't find the time.
Although it may seem difficult at first, the earlier you develop your post pregnancy exercise routine, the easier it will be for you and your baby to adapt to it. Read more about what, when and how often to exercise after pregnancy here. Be sure to have your doctor’s approval before beginning your postpartum exercises.
Do you have a question about postpartum exercise? Or perhaps you have some wisdom to give to other moms. Please, feel free to contribute here!
The health information in this website is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.
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