To many, Post Partum Depression (PDD) is not believed to be a common issue amongst pregnant women. Unfortunately, up to 20% of pregnancies will begin the post-delivery period with symptoms of depression that continue longer than two weeks and at times last many months. The chance of developing this condition depends on multiple preventable risk factors. We, at evolve encourage awareness of both the risk factors and strategies for preventing them from a holistic perspective.
The most common risk factors for Post Partum Depression are previous history of depression both in and outside of pregnancy, major life stresses occurring during pregnancy, complications of pregnancy, unplanned pregnancy, low socioeconomic status, and perceived lack of social support. Perception of support is considered a major deciding factor in the development of PPD. In fact, in certain Asian traditions where family members take care of mother and baby for one month after delivery have very low rates of PPD.
Symptoms of PPD include sadness, lack of motivation, uncontrolled crying, appetite changes, poor concentration, paranoia, insomnia, lack of interest in baby, fatigue, anxiety, and irritability. PPD does not just affect mothers, but children also are at greater risk of impaired mental and motor development, low self-esteem and behavioural problems in infancy and beyond.
Why do only some women experience PPD?
Pregnancy is a time when thyroid and reproductive hormone levels sky rocket. The amount of hormones surging in a woman’s body during pregnancy is equivalent to 100 birth control pills of estrogen and progesterone. After delivery, these hormones go back to pre-pregnancy levels and for some women this difference is a shock to the system. The difference is enough to manifest as depression and anxiety. You can talk to your healthcare provider about therapies that may be beneficial and suitable to support hormonal stability in the post-pregnancy period.
Some women do well to take certain nutrients that support thyroid, adrenal, serotonin and other neurotransmitters because they can be significantly affected after pregnancy. Safe treatments for post partum depression include nutritional medications such as omega 3s, St Johnswort, and 5HTP and therapies to support hormonal balance. *A note on St Johnswort – it must be standardized to an active constituent called hyperforin. Many companies standardize to a more stable, yet less effective anti-depressant called hypericin. As this is a medication with anti-depressant activity discuss appropriate dosing with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It is especially important to discuss medicinal treatments if therapy is considered during breastfeeding.
Isolation is the predominant factor that precludes to depression. Expectant mother’s can make plans during pregnancy to call on family and friend support and develop plans for when they know that support may come to an end. It is advised that women incorporate positive coping strategies for themselves to help deal with the changes. It is after all the perception of isolation that correlates to depression and the anticipation of lack of support that is associated with depression. Healthcare practitioners can readily help identify risk factors and look for cues that may predispose to PPD.
It’s important for practitioners to assess and screen using various tools to identify if you’re at risk of PDD as it is often underreported and under-treated. Consulting qualified holistic practitioners is prudent to become aware of your risk factors, to generally screen for PDD during and after pregnancy and to treat using holistic modalities. If you would like to more information, please speak to your practitioner at evolve Nurturing Vitality.
Dr. Bobby Parmar ND