Are you a worrier? I come from a long line of worriers. Although I think all kids have irrational fears at times, I was the kid who didn’t sleep on my side until about 5th grade because I was sure someone would stab me in the back if I did. Yeah, weird, I know.
As we go through life, as ladies, we have different seasons of hormonal changes. (We learn that in middle school health class.) What we aren’t often taught is that those seasons of change can have big effects on our mental health.
What is manageable anxiety in our youth, can become overwhelming when paired with the hormonal swings of pregnancy and childbirth. Did you know that in pregnancy, our bodies spend 9 months building up high levels of hormones that, after the baby is born, drop rapidly? Think of it like what happens surrounding your monthly period, but turned up massively.
There are things that just aren’t talked about enough. For one, marriage is hard, but so worth it. And here’s another: The postpartum period can be really difficult to get through, but you can do it!
It is totally normal to have wonky thoughts and emotions after having a baby.
I found that after my second pregnancy, even as I moved through that season and settled into routines, my anxious thoughts were more persistent than they had been before baby. Finding a Christian counselor proved to be a big help to me. I could talk to her about things that were embarrassing to admit to people I knew.
Things like — when I’d go to work at night, if Greg mentioned that he was going to take the boys to the store, I’d cry the whole evening. While I knew in my head that Greg was a stellar father…the fear in me kept telling me that he was going to lose one of the boys.
It was helpful for me, during that season, to take an anti-depressant medication. I felt like it enabled me to sort through what were sinful thought patterns that I needed to consciously control, and what was just the way my brain worked. It taught me what it felt like to live without constant anxiety.
For a number of years it was a real blessing. I started to feel, however, that it was time for me to see if I could function without it. A combination of reading about natural remedies and the thought that my body may truly no longer need the medication spurred me to talk to my husband, and then slowly (like over the course of 8 months) wean myself off of the medication.
During that time, I dug deep into research on supplements that might be helpful, and into Scripture, which was a conscious way to focus my thoughts and emotions.
I read loads of fantastic articles about different supplements that can affect depression and anxiety, and brain health in general. Magnesium, vitamin D, and Omegas were all things I tried, as well as other herbal supplements.
Vitamin B Complex
For me, the thing that made a noticeable difference was a high potency B-Complex. (This is the one I use).
Let me say clearly here: I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse. I am not a trained health professional. I’m telling you about my experience, hoping that it may be a benefit to someone else.
Here are some things I’ve learned:
Vitamin B works in your nervous system. It is thought to help with myelination (which helps the messages in our brains send more effectively), and aids in the production of neurotransmitters (the tiny chemical messengers that do the communicating).
Studies show that folks that tend to struggle with depression and anxiety frequently have lower levels of B12 specifically. This is a great article on B12 deficiency.
I can actually feel it in my brain when I’ve forgotten to take my vitamin B for several days. And I definitely notice my thought patterns affected as well.
If anxiety or depression are things that you struggle with, I’d encourage you to try vitamin B. Our bodies respond to things differently, so there’s certainly no guarantee that it’ll help you. But it might. Or maybe the magnesium or other supplements are what your body needs? I have some friends who rely on taking extra vitamin D to get through the cloudy winter months.
Would you share if you’ve found any vitamins or herbal supplements particularly helpful for your brain health? Maybe it’s just what someone else is needing.