Acupuncture Can Help Overcome Postpartum Depression

Approximately 13% of women experience postpartum depression. Early recognition is difficult, since much of the suffering is hidden.

happy mom and babyDepression can happen before, during and/or after pregnancy. Changes in hormones, relationships, and lifestyle can exacerbate symptoms. Knowing potential causes and symptoms and seeking acupuncture treatment early can prevent and help manage potentially painful and harmful symptoms.  New moms don’t want anyone to think they’re a “bad mother” or “bad person” based on thoughts or feelings they might be having or ways they’re treating their new infant. So, they don’t talk about it, or they lash out at the people they love.

Depression during pregnancy is about as common. Up to 14 percent of pregnant women experience some kind of serious depression, a condition characterized by feelings of dread, gloom and hopelessness, as well as a loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities.

If not discovered and treated early, depression during pregnancy or postpartum can be dangerous for the new mom and her baby. She could stop caring for herself, her fetus or her newborn baby.

Risk Factors Often Leading to Postpartum Depression

In the 1990s, an analysis of 84 published studies was conducted to determine the various risk factors for postpartum depression. The results from the combined studies show that the greatest precursors to postpartum depression and things to be aware of are: prenatal depression, self esteem, childcare stress, prenatal anxiety, life stress, social support, marital relationship, history of previous depression, infant temperament, maternity blues, marital status, socioeconomic status, and unplanned/unwanted pregnancy. Having knowledge that the mom-to-be exhibits any signs of those risk factors is an excellent reason to seek acupuncture care throughout the pregnancy and after.

Why Acupuncture?

Research has shown acupuncture to be a safe and effective treatment for psychological problems, including depression. Other reasons to seek acupuncture treatment include:

  • There is no contraindication to treatment, and it does not adversely interact with other treatments, such as conventional anti-depressive therapy. In fact, the acupuncture can be a useful therapeutic benefit with meds.
  • Acupuncture does not interfere with lactation.
  • Many people enter a state of deep relaxation during treatments, and some will fall asleep. This deep relaxation could benefit a woman with postpartum depression whose symptoms are often exacerbated by lack of sleep.

More Benefits of Acupuncture

  • Acupuncture can help your body function more efficiently. It boosts your immune system and your circulation.
  • Acupuncture increases the production of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel good” chemical.
  • A study from China, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that a low-dose of fluoxetine (Prozac) combined with acupuncture therapy was just as effective at reducing anxiety in patients being treated for depression as full-dose medication. Cutting the dose and adding acupuncture also reduced the drug’s side effects, which can include nausea, weight gain, and a decreased sex drive.
  • Stimulation by acupuncture may also activate the hypothalamus, the section of the brain responsible for hormone production, and the pituitary gland, resulting in a broad spectrum of systemic effects. The pituitary gland synthesizes and secretes endocrine hormones that have several important functions such as breast milk production, energy metabolism, thyroid gland function, temperature regulation of the body, and pain relief. If any of these or other symptoms are contributing to depression, acupuncture with or without herbal medicine can help.

Some More Study Results from Stanford University

According to results of a study by the Stanford University School of Medicine, acupuncture can be an effective way to reduce symptoms of depression during pregnancy. The study followed 150 women who were given eight weeks of treatment in one of three control groups: acupuncture specific for depression; control acupuncture (during which needles were inserted in points not known to alleviate depression); or massage. Researchers found that 63 percent of women receiving depression-specific acupuncture experienced 50 percent or greater reduction in symptoms, compared with 44 percent of the women in the other treatment groups combined.

With no contraindications and beneficial results and positive “side effects,” there are no more excuses. Call Day Wellness and schedule an appointment today!

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