How Do I Prevent It?
*Disclaimer: I’ll be sharing a few tips about recognizing post-adoption depression and what you can do if you find you may have symptoms of it. I’m certainly not an expert, and don’t intend to replace the advice of your medical or mental health providers. I am simply a fellow adoptive parent with lived experience sharing pieces of our story in hopes you won’t feel alone in your journey.
I hope you will find these posts informative and encourage you to connect with a therapist, and also an adoptive parents support group, who can help walk you through your next steps if you find that you are experiencing any symptoms of post-adoption depression. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please immediately call 911 or the national suicide hotline at 800-273-8255.
If you missed our first post, Post-Adoption Depression Part 1: Symptoms, you can check it out here:
How Do I Prevent Post-Adoption Depression?
Having support is critical for parents to help fend off and get through their Post-Adoption Depression.
Getting connected with a support group of other adoptive families, whether in person or through online communities, can help you be better prepared for placement and for the ups and downs that will come up through your lifetime with your adoptive child.
Consistent therapy is also a must. If you can find a trauma informed therapist, and one who has experience with foster and adoptive families, that’s even better! Even if you haven’t started the adoption process yet, but you are trying to grow your family – get into therapy! If you are in the middle of the process, or you adopted 10 years ago, or you’re somewhere in between – get into therapy! Therapy is like a checkup for your mental health, and therapists are there when to help when you need some extra support.
If you are just getting started with the adoption process – get a mental health check. Work with a therapist to assess your mental health state and be honest with your answers. Discuss your hopes and intentions for adopting in depth. List your expectations and your non-negotiables. Let your therapist work with you through this crucial step to help you overcome any feelings of insecurity, grief, past trauma, and set you up for success with your adoption expectations.
I believe EVERY adoptive parent needs trauma training. Even babies who were adopted and placed in your arms immediately after deliver have experienced trauma. Here are some resources to help you get started on your trauma informed parenting journey, and there are many more out there!
We have also attached some (affiliate) links to make it easier for you to find these resources. This means at no additional cost to you we may receive a commission if you purchase products from one of our links. However, we only recommend products we love and we try to find the best deals for you. Click here or on the picture to see our full disclosure.
What Do I Do Now That I Have It?
We’ve talked a lot about the cruddy stuff, but I promise there is a light at the end of the tunnel, friends. Here are some ways you can ease symptoms of Post-Adoption Depression, many of them you can start as soon as today!
By far the best thing you can do to help ease post-adoption depression is to get started with therapy. Like I mentioned, you need to find a therapist who is trauma informed and who works often with foster and adoptive families. There are so many practices these days doing online therapy, you may have luck finding a therapist doing video sessions who normally wouldn’t be in driving distance for you, and who you can meet with while you’re giving a baby a bottle or kids are napping.
MEDICATION + SUPPLEMENTATION
From there, you can talk with your therapist about options for medication or supplements that can help. Don’t buy in to the stigmas with medication, and don’t rule it out right away. They are not for everyone, but they can also be beneficial and crucial for your recovery. Medications can be a short-term support to work through the tough stuff, and your therapist can send you in genetic testing bloodwork to make sure you are prescribed a medication that your body tolerates best and will be most effective, the quickest.
There are also natural options you can explore with a therapist who is knowledgeable in this. Your therapist can send you in for bloodwork to determine if you need more balance with hormones, vitamins, and minerals which can ease a great amount of depression and anxiety.
There are options, friends.
In the meantime, make sure you are taking care of you. I mean, really take care of yourself. Are your most basic physical, mental, and spiritual needs being met, or you barely scraping by?
Discipline in these areas is such a simple way to help you be at your best daily until you able to meet with a therapist and while you are doing the extra hard work of healing during this big life change.
Here are 10 simple practices keep your body energized and ready to handle the everyday things that drain your body – parenting, work, housework, etc.
- Properly Fuel Your Body
Ensure that you are eating wholesome, healthy foods. Get in your three meals and small snacks in between if you need.
Has your child ever started throwing a fit around bottle time or snack time?
Do you notice your own dysregulation kicking in when you’ve skipped a meal?
Your body needs to be properly nourished.
Your body is made of up to 60% water.
Your brain and heart are over 70% water.
Your lungs are over 80% water.
You get the picture.
When you deprive your body of proper hydration you simply cannot function the way you were meant to. Your body will lag, and your brain will suffer, further exasperating your symptoms.
- Get outside!
Some natural vitamin D from sunlight does wonders for your body, just look it up!
Breathing in some fresh air and walking barefoot can provide your body with some much needed grounding. It’s a great way to refocus and recharge.
Quality, pure, therapeutic essential oils are a great way to calm, refocus, and ground yourself as well. Let me know if you’d like some suggestions for this.
Just get your body moving. You don’t need to train for a marathon. Some simple stretches throughout the day or a 10-minute walk in your own backyard while the kids are playing gets your blood pumping and circulating better throughout your better.
- Please, sleep.
I know this isn’t always easy, especially when you have kids that don’t sleep. Believe me, I get it! I have a six-year-old who didn’t sleep the first five and half years of his life. I truly get it.
This might mean not staying to watch your fav show after the kids go to bed, but in this season, you need to meet your most basic needs first. Sleep is crucial for your body’s recovery from the day – mentally, emotionally, and physically. And if you have a child with sleep struggles, it’s especially important to get in those moments of rest every chance you can.
- Meet Your Spiritual Needs
Whatever this looks like for you, make sure you are doing it daily! Spend time everyday in prayer over your family, yourself, and this new adjustment. Spend time reading your Bible to be strengthened and encouraged. Refocus your mind. Help your body feel centered and renewed for the day. Recite Bible verse or affirmations. Say empowering and encouraging things about yourself and to yourself out loud every day. Remind yourself of how capable you are. Believe in your abilities. Don’t lose sight of powerful your Savior is and the promises he holds for you and your family.
When you’ve had your most basic needs met, work in these other aids which are just as crucial for your mental, emotional, and social health.
- Join A Support Group
Having people in your corner who just get it is invaluable. There will be parents in this group who are further along in their journey than you are, or who are just getting started, but everyone can contribute to your knowledge and growth as an adoptive parent. They will be able to offer resources you haven’t heard of yourself. They have lived experience and can assist you with helping you and your child along this lifelong journey.
- Ask For Help.
And let people help you who want to.
If you’re need a break or your own timeout – tell someone!
I know those early bonding moments with your child are SO important.
But so is your mental health.
You don’t have to leave your child to get some time to yourself. And if you are able to and want to hire a babysitter so you can get a night out, that’s great, too. Work this out however you are able to and feel comfortable with.
This might look like your spouse doing the bedtime routine with the kids so you have a moment to yourself. This might look like your best friend coming over to chat with you while you do your everyday household chores so you can have some time with an adult. This might look like someone tagging along during shopping trip. This might look like asking grandma to come play with the kids or rock the baby once a week so that you can make a simple dinner without having a little tugging on your pantleg the entire time.
- Speaking of which – you need YOU time.
You need some planned days or nights to yourself, especially if you are a stay-at-home parent. This doesn’t have to be weekly. Again, I know those first few weeks and months with your child are crucial for bonding and attachment. This might look like once-a-month date nights with your spouse. And for a while, they might be date nights in while the rest of the house is asleep for the night. This might look like a quarterly girls night out.
Get some time to yourself.
Get time to be an adult.
Get time to clear your mind without being needed by a little one.
Even just 10 minutes a day can be so helpful!
- Give Yourself Grace.
Remember that you are not alone.
Give yourself time to bond with your child.
Hold onto expectation loosely, if at all.
Remember why you chose this journey to begin.
Give your child grace, they’ve experienced trauma.