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Exercising to Battle Postnatal Depression

Celebrated on April 7th every year, World Health Day 2017 is focusing on the theme of ‘Depression’, and Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is urging all Australian mums to help battle the on-set of postnatal depression (PND) with exercise.

The World Health Organisation’s global theme for World Health Day this year centers around understanding the treatment and management of depression, to help reduce the on-going stigma associated with this condition. Depression can affect anyone and knows no bounds, impacting a person’s ability to carry out the most routine everyday tasks, leading to devastating consequences for individuals, friends and family.

One form of depression is postnatal depression, and Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) discusses postnatal depression as effecting more than 1 in 7 new mums each year in Australia.

“Postnatal depression is different from the ‘baby blues’, which many women experience in the early days after giving birth associated with hormonal cascades. Some signs of PND are consistent low mood, anxiety, feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness or hopelessness,” reports Esme Soan, Accredited Exercise Physiologist and women’s health expert.

“We know depression can impact on your ability to complete your every day tasks and activities, let alone the additional demands of caring for a newborn. It can be hard to manage alone, so it’s important to be aware of the signs of postnatal depression, and to seek help from family, friends and professionals.”

Exercising before and during pregnancy is healthy for both you and baby, however evidence shows that continuing to exercise post-partum is a vital tool in enhancing mental and physical health and an effective treatment in reducing the symptoms and severity of postnatal depression.

“Exercise is a form of medicine, and we know it can help improve your mood, as well as assist with your sleep quality and energy levels, as well as your physical recovery from pregnancy and delivery,” says Miss Soan.

Not all exercises are suitable for postpartum women, so it’s important to seek professional advice early to ensure you receive expert care from an exercise professional.

“It’s best to first get clearance from your doctor at a post-partum check-up prior to seeing an accredited exercise professional such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist or Accredited Exercise Scientist,” says ESSA Chief Executive Officer, Anita Hobson-Powell.

“The accredited professional will then provide you with an exercise prescription that they can guide you through.”

To locate your local accredited exercise professional, click here.

For more details on World Health Day’s ‘Depression’ campaign, click here.