Postpartum depression is extremely common. You are not alone. In fact, depression is the #1 complication in childbirth. Postpartum depression is a result of diminished functioning of the brain that is not your fault, and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with you. Postpartum depression is a brain health issue that can be resolved.
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You can address postpartum depression through steps I’ll outline in this article.
The brain requires adequate levels of nutrients and hormones to function properly. Because the growing baby demands so much of the same nutrients and resources, pregnancy regularly depletes key nutrients in mothers. This often results in insufficient nutrients for normal functioning of the brain, which can have severe consequences if it isn’t addressed appropriately. When the brain doesn’t have the nutrients it needs, the most common symptoms are anxiety, depression, OCD, heightened sensitivity to trauma, and sometimes even psychosis (break from reality).
Psychiatric drugs are sometimes helpful and necessary in the short term. However, to address the root causes of postpartum depression, nutrition needs to be assessed and replenished. This way, the brain has the capacity to create the neurotransmitters necessary for calm and happiness.
Common Causes of Postpartum Depression
Researchers have uncovered nutritional associations with postpartum depression and developed methods of addressing nutrient depletion in a way that improves brain function in pregnant and postpartum mothers.
For good reason, postpartum pregnancy is often blamed on the hormone slump that occurs after the baby is born. Certain hormones (such as progesterone and T3) make you happy, and when they’re suddenly gone, the brain suffers.
Hormone depletion is often caused by nutrient depletion. Because of this, the post-baby slump in hormones (and mood) is decreased if nutrients are replenished. For example, low progesterone levels are associated with low zinc levels and too-high copper levels. Zinc is an incredibly important mineral that is often depleted in pregnant and nursing mothers. Therefore, zinc and copper levels should be assessed in women with postpartum depression. If you’re experiencing a major depressive or psychotic episode, you may ask your doctor for a progesterone injection, in the meantime, while you are getting to the bottom of the problem.
Low thyroid functioning is a common cause not only of postpartum depression, but many other cases of depression as well. About 7% of women get postpartum thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid) in the first year after giving birth. Thyroiditis is associated with nutrititional factors that are too complicated to go into here, but iodine levels and unnoticed food sensitivities often play a role. These factors can be checked and addressed for optimal thyroid functioning and therefore optimal brain functioning.
Other Nutrients Involved in Postpartum Depression
Pregnancy places a lot of demands on iron stores. Iron is of course essential for blood, but it is also essential for brain function and mood. You should have your iron levels and other causes of anemia assessed if you’re pregnant or suffering from postpartum depression.
Essential fatty acids are another crucial brain chemical essential for brain function. Pregnancy depletes store of omega–3 fatty acids, and keeping them high during pregnancy and after pregnancy is important.
There are many other nutrients and nutritional factors related to postpartum depression. Additionally, these nutrient deficiencies can be present at other times of life and may or may not cause full-blown symptoms.
[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”Get Help Now”]At MindWhale, we specialize in finding the nutritional roots of mental illness and supporting your brain’s biochemistry for optimal functioning. We assess nutritional status and help you quickly understand your brain biochemistry so that you can move on with your life, empowered, happy, and free. Contact us for an assessment of your situation.
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