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Walking Away the Shadows: How Walking Therapy Can Help Combat Postnatal Depression and Reclaim the Joy of Parenthood

Postnatal depression is a topic that touches the lives of countless new parents, yet it often remains shrouded in silence and stigma. This form of depression can affect mothers and fathers alike, emerging in the weeks or months following the birth of a child. While welcoming a new life into the world is typically seen as a joyous occasion, the reality for some is far more complex. Feelings of sadness, anxiety, and overwhelm can overshadow the expected happiness, making it challenging for parents to cope. Understanding postnatal depression, its causes, and its impact is crucial for providing support and ensuring the well-being of both parent and child.

What is postnatal depression?

Postnatal depression is a complex condition which is often misunderstood. It is assumed that mainly affects many new mothers, but it can also impact fathers and partners. It is a type of mood disorder that occurs after childbirth, often bringing with it feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion. Worryingly, it can interfere with daily life and prevent crucial bonding with the new baby.

Signs of postnatal depression

As everyone is unique, symptoms of postnatal depression can vary from person to person. Typically, these symptoms may include persistent sadness, overwhelming fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, irritability or anger, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite or weight, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of harming oneself or the baby.

These feelings can be almost made worse, by the assumption from others that having a new baby should guarantee instant joy and happiness. How can you feel sad, if you’ve just had a beautiful new baby?

How long does postnatal depression last?

Although it's normal for new parents to experience some degree of mood swings and adjustment challenges after childbirth, postnatal depression is more severe and long-lasting. It can begin quickly, within the first few weeks after giving birth, but in other cases can also develop gradually over several months. There is a misconception that postnatal depression is short lived and will go away by itself. However, sadly, this is not always the case. Without intervention, Postnatal Depression can persist for months or even years, affecting both the parent's well-being and the child's development.

Postnatal depression treatments

Fortunately, there are effective treatments available for postnatal depression, ranging from therapy and support groups to medication in severe cases. For many new mum’s, who are breast feeding, understandably taking medication is something to be avoided wherever possible. One increasingly popular form of therapy to help combat this depression is walking therapy, which involves engaging in gentle physical, activity while receiving therapeutic support.

Walking therapy benefits

Walking therapy offers several benefits for individuals experiencing Postnatal Depression. Firstly, physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on mood by releasing endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters. This can help alleviate feelings of sadness and anxiety commonly experienced with Postnatal depression.

Additionally, being outdoors and connecting with nature during walks can promote a sense of calm and relaxation, reducing stress levels and improving overall well-being. It provides a chance to escape from day to day pressures and regain much needed perspective in life. We offer walking therapy to individual clients, as well as couples.

Moreover, a walking therapy group provides a supportive environment for individuals to discuss their feelings and experiences either privately or together with a trained therapist. It can be very reassuring to understand that what you are feeling affects others as well. The act of walking side by side can create a sense of equality and openness, making it easier for individuals to express themselves and engage in meaningful conversations. As therapists, we use these opportunities to provide non judgemental counselling, introduce coping strategies, and provide emotional support tailored to the client's needs.

The duration of postnatal depression varies for each person, but with proper treatment and support, many individuals experience significant improvement within a few months. However, it's essential to seek help as soon as symptoms arise in order to prevent the condition from worsening and to promote faster recovery.

To conclude, postnatal depression is a challenging condition that can affect the well-being of new parents and their ability to care for their baby. However, with the right support and treatment, recovery is possible.

Walking therapy offers a holistic approach to managing postnatal depression by combining gentle physical activity with therapeutic support, helping clients address their symptoms and reclaim their joy in parenthood.

If you or someone you know is struggling with postnatal depression, why not let us offer support through one of our retreats in the majestic Lake District, or via online one-to-one therapy from the convenience of home.

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