Post Partum Depression
If you’re suffering with Post Partum Depression, call us today. We have been quite successful in frequently reducing the terrible suffering associated with this issue. Schedule your consultation by calling 212-685-0985
Studies show that acupuncture allows patients to regain their natural hormonal balance in a shorter time than those not treated with acupuncture, and is also at least as effective as standard medicines given for postpartum depression. A study in both 2014 & 2018 showed acupuncture to be as effective as fluoxetine in the treatment of postpartum depression, and study in 2019 showed acupuncture to be effective at improving the symptoms of postpartum depression.
You’ve just had a beautiful baby, and you had expected to be filled with joy during this time. Instead, you are overwhelmed by feelings of dread, self-doubt, sadness, and confusion.
These feelings may be a sign that you are experiencing postpartum depression. If you think you might have postpartum depression, there is help available and you don’t have to suffer endlessly.
We have seen amazing results when treating those suffering with post party depression with the utilization of acupuncture and herbal medicine.
Here, at The Berkley Center for Gynecologic Wellness we are all licensed and board certified in acupuncture and board certified in herbal medicine.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression is a medical condition that causes severe and long-lasting negative emotions or thoughts in the months after giving birth. The feelings associated with this condition can be so strong that you may find yourself unable to do normal day-to-day tasks like caring for yourself and your baby.
As the name suggests, PPD usually appears during the post partum time. often between one and three weeks after your baby is born. For some women, it may begin up to a year after giving birth.
In some cases, it may start before you give birth, while you are still pregnant. Postpartum depression can occur after any delivery, not necessarily the first one.
Feeling overwhelmed, especially in those first few months, can be totally normal and understandable. You have a new family member, you’re not sleeping much, and you have a lot on your plate.
But if your feelings seem to be more severe and longer-lasting, it may be an indication that you have postpartum depression.
With postpartum depression, the feelings of sadness and emptiness linger, typically lasting longer than two weeks.
This issue may be considered a complication of childbirth. Postpartum depression can interfere with your day-to-day life and prevent you from enjoying motherhood and bonding with your baby, so getting treatment from your healthcare provider is essential.
At The Berkley Center for Gynecologic Wellness, we are seeing very positive results when treating women suffering with PPD.
How Common Is Postpartum Depression? Approximately 10 to 15 percent of women who’ve given birth experience postpartum depression.
Signs and Symptoms of PPD These can include:
- Feelings of hopelessness and despair
- Severe anxiety
- Feeling depressed
- Severe mood swings
- Intense irritability and anger
- Crying a lot
- Difficulty bonding with your baby or not having an interest in your little one
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Having trouble focusing
- Finding it hard to handle everyday tasks
- Withdrawing from loved ones
- Reduced interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
- Having panic attacks
- Experiencing aches or pains like headaches or stomach problems
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
Causes of Postpartum Depression
It’s not known exactly what causes postpartum depression, but it is likely triggered by a combination of physical and emotional factors, which may include:
- Hormonal changes. A sharp drop in the level of the estrogen and progesterone after giving birth may contribute by causing mood swings. In addition, levels of other hormones produced by your thyroid gland may also drop, making you feel tired, sluggish, and depressed.
- Sleep deprivation. Recovering from giving birth combined with caring for your newborn takes its toll on your ability to get adequate rest. This sleep deficit can lead to physical discomfort as well as exhaustion, which can trigger symptoms of postpartum depression.
- Emotional issues. This is a period of big change in your life. Feeling overwhelmed and anxious, feeling less attractive, struggling with your sense of identity, and feeling as if you’ve lost control of your life may also be contributing factors.
- Risk Factors Postpartum depression can affect any new mom, but having these risk factors may increase the likelihood experiencing this condition:
- A history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times
- Experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) before your periods
- Having a history of mental health problems
- Having had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy
- A family history of depression or other mood problems
- Experiencing major stressors recently (even those unrelated to pregnancy)
- Difficult transitions, such as going back to work.
- Having twins or multiples
- Giving birth preterm
- Having a baby who has health problems or other special needs
- Having difficulty breast feeding
- Problems in your relationship with your partner
- A weak support system
- Financial worries
- Having a bipolar disorder.
If you have a history of postpartum depression, be sure to let us know.
The Difference Between Postpartum Depression and “Baby Blues”
Postpartum depression is not the same as the “postpartum blues” or the “baby blues.” The term baby blues or postpartum blues refers to less severe symptoms of sadness and feeling overwhelmed.
With this condition, you may experience short bouts of crying and anxiety. You might also have trouble sleeping or lose your appetite. The milder symptoms associated with the blues typically begin a few days after you give birth, and usually go away after a couple of days or weeks without treatment. Although having the baby blues can be difficult, these feelings aren’t so severe that they interfere with being able to care for yourself or your baby the way postpartum depression can.
Up to 70 to 80 percent of new moms feel this way.
Some feelings of sadness and even anger are normal. Some good strategies for coping with the postpartum blues can include:
- Getting as much rest as you can
- Talking to your loved ones about how you’re feeling
- Asking for help
- Exercising (as long as your healthcare provider has given it the OK)
- Joining a support group of other new parents
- Giving yourself a little “me time” each day, including some time spent out of the house.
Treatment for Postpartum Depression
Your postpartum depression treatment options may include psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy or mental health counseling) and/or medications, such as antidepressants. Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been shown to have excellent results in reducing the signs and symptoms of PPD.
Although PPD isn’t generally something you can treat on your own, these ideas may help set a solid foundation for your medical treatment plan, and could help speed up recovery:
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Be physically active every day, whether it's taking a walk with your baby or some other form of exercise. Try to get as much sleep as you can, and eat healthily.
- Have realistic expectations. You’re adjusting to having a new baby, so don’t put pressure on yourself for everything to be perfect.
- Make time for yourself. Let someone care for your baby while you have some “me time.” Leave the house, and do something relaxing that you enjoy with people you feel comfortable with.
- Connect with others. Feeling isolated can be a problem for some new moms. Talk to your loved ones about how you’re feeling, and speak to other moms about their experiences. There may even be a support group in your local area you can join—check with your healthcare provider or community center for information on what may be available.
- Share the load. Your loved ones will often be happy to help out. Sometimes all it takes is just to ask! There may be practical things they can do— such as cooking you some meals, or helping with chores—that can take some of the pressure off you.
- Limit upheaval. Having a baby is enough of a change in your life. As much as possible, try to limit additional major life changes at this time, such as moving or changing jobs.
- Follow your healthcare provider’s advice.
Don’t stop treatment simply because you “feel better,” as this may lead to a relapse.
How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?
Postpartum depression requires treatment. Start treatment soon if you think you have PPD. The sooner you start treatment the sooner you’ll start to feel better and more grounded. For some women, symptoms may peak after a few weeks, but then linger for 3 to 12 months more.
Getting treatment early can help reduce the severity of your symptoms and may help resolve the condition more quickly.
What Can Happen if Postpartum Depression Isn’t Treated?
Not getting treatment for postpartum depression can mean that the severe negative feelings last for a long time. Lack of treatment can also affect bonding between you and your baby, and can lead to development problems for your baby.
Can Your Postpartum Depression Affect Your Baby?
Yes. Bonding with your baby is important for your baby’s development, and postpartum depression can stand in the way of that. Any stress and anxiety you feel can also affect your infant and his or her brain development. This is another reason why diagnosis and treatment for postpartum depression is so important.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture Points & Herbs for Postpartum Depression
Treatment plans for postpartum depression usually consist of daily herbal medicine coupled with weekly acupuncture visits, and depending on the TCM diagnosis, and may require more than once a week for treatments. Getting other healthcare providers on board with the patient’s treatment plan is also very important, depending on the severity of the case and the patient’s needs for adjunctive treatment.
Acupuncture points for postpartum depression
- ST36 – Leg Three Li – Zusanli – located 3 cun below ST35 one finger width lateral from the anterior border of the tibia. This point benefits blood production, ST qi, and source qi as well as psychological/emotional disorders.
- HT7 – Spirit Gate – Shen Men – located at the wrist crease on the radial side of the flexor carpi ulnaris tendon, between the ulna and the pisiform bones. This point is good for emotional & psychological issues, tonifies deficiencies of HT qi, blood, yin & yang.
- P6 – Inner Pass – Nei Guan – located 2 cun above the wrist crease between the tendons of palmaris longus and flexor capri radialis. This point benefits the heart, calms the mind. It is helpful for insomnia and/or other spirit disorders of excess or deficient nature, mania, nervousness, stress, and poor memory.
- SP6 – Three Yin Intersection – Sanyinjiao – located 3 cun above the tip of the medial malleolus on the posterior border of the tibia. This point benefits blood production, ST qi, source qi, and many anxiety related emotions.
- GV20 – Hundred Convergences – Bai Hui – located 5 cun posterior to the AHL. This point is where the mind is housed, and yang channels gather. Useful for associated area with emotions, memory, behavior, and yang energy imbalances.
- EX-HN1 – God’s Cleverness – Sishencong – located at a group of 4 points, at the vertex, 1 cun posterior, anterior and lateral to GV20. This is also where the mind is housed, and yang channels gather. It is useful for pacifying the mind and calming the spirit, and also serves issues with memory or thinking when combined with GV20.
- LV3 – Great Surge – Tai Chong – located on the dorsum of the foot in a depression distal to the junctions of the 1st and 2nd metatarsal bones. This point regulates qi, blood, and yin. It is a calming point used for anger, irritability, insomnia, and anxiety as well as resolving any stagnation.
Along with useful points, it is important that individuals with postpartum depression eat foods that nourish the kidneys (home to a woman’s jing), and the liver as it has to process & eliminate all the excess hormones throughout the body after birth.
Foods that nourish the kidneys & liver:
- Black beans
- Black sesame seeds
- Dandelion & Nettles (which can easily be found in tea form) to boost iron & calcium
- Milk thistle to support the liver
Postpartum herbal formulas are also, as we know, helpful as they replenish micronutrients, enhance circulation, boost cellular metabolism, and promote tissue repair, which is an integral part of postpartum depression care.
Postpartum depression herbal formulas:
- Xiao Yao Wan – Free & Easy Wanderer – its job is to primarily harmonize, and then also regulate the liver & spleen. It is useful in the case of postpartum depression for anxiety, depression, loss of motivation, fatigue, bloating, and breast distention. Contraindications being to use with caution during pregnancy.
- Dang Gui Jian Zhong Tang – Decoction to Construct the Middle – its job is to nourish, invigorate, and harmonize the blood. In the case of postpartum depression, it is helpful with a wide variety of its symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue, night crying, irritability, and postpartum emaciation/weakness.
- Qing Hun San – Clear the Hun – its job is to tonify the heart qi and calm the spirit. In the case of postpartum depression, it is helpful with depression, irritability, mood swings, low spirits, palpitations, fatigue, and lower back ache.
As always, it is important to consider the patients individual set of circumstances, especially other medications they may be taking in conjunction with acupuncture/herbal therapy.
Acupuncture Can Help Postpartum Depression
In the United States alone, approximately 70% – 80% of women will experience, at a minimum, the “baby blues,” and many will experience postpartum depression that goes undiagnosed, unrecognized, and untreated. The reported rate of postpartum depression among new mothers is 10% – 20%, and with approximately 4 million live births occurring each year, that equates to almost 600,00 cases of post partum depression It is important to note that these numbers only include live births, and many women who have stillbirths or miscarry experience postpartum depression as well, and medical experts believe that the rate of postpartum depression could be at least twice as much as what is actually reported & diagnosed.
Acupuncture treatment should be a part of the mother’s life from the start of pregnancy, and preferably beforehand.
Proper treatment protocol would be to make postpartum care an ongoing process rather than a single encounter. The woman and/or family member should receive guidance through the pregnancy with development of a postpartum care plan that addresses the transition to parenthood for all. Ideally, the woman should have contact with her acupuncturist throughout, but definitely within the first 3 weeks postpartum to assess her mental and physical state after childbirth and prevent any possible postpartum depression symptoms from manifesting further or at all.
Having postpartum depression does not make someone a bad person or mother. It is a very real scientific condition that needs further study. As healthcare and technology advances, more studies and neuroimaging come up as we become increasingly aware of this very real health concern within new mothers and fathers. Acupuncture and TCM providers can truly be a big help along the way.
We welcome any woman suffering with PPD to The Berkley Center for Gynecologic Wellness where we will work very closely with you to help to reduce these symptoms.
We have relationships with excellent gynecologists and psychiatrists which we can work with as a team if, together we feel this is required.
Schedule your consultation today by calling 212-685-0985.