Did you know that postpartum depression (also known as postnatal depression, or PND) is the most common complication of childbearing? Up to 13 per cent of women suffer with postnatal depression, and those who suffer with severe postpartum ‘blues’ are the most likely to go on to have postnatal depression (a more long-term version of the ‘baby blues’ that too many women know so well).
But even with all the research being done lately about postnatal depression, there are no widespread prevention strategies as yet. So the scientists at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto and National Academy of Sciences in the US decided it was time to get some research under way. And their findings so far are truly amazing.
Blueberries beat the blues!
Their most recent studies have found that the amino acids, tryptophan and tyrosine, found in blueberries, can compensate for the surge in a protein after giving birth, which cuts the level of ‘feel-good hormones’ in the brain.
Scientists found that on day five after giving birth, when postnatal blues peak, women taking the supplements – which included blueberry juice with blueberry extract – suffered no drop in mood. While those who did not take them had a significant increase in their depression test scores.
The key ingredients (tryptophan and tyrosine) were also shown not to affect their total concentration in breast milk.
The study of 41 women is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Interventions to help postnatal depression
Lead author Dr Jeffrey Meyer, who heads the neuroimaging program in mood and anxiety at CAMH, said: “We believe this is the first study to show such a strong, beneficial effect of an intervention in reducing the baby blues at a time when post-partum sadness peaks.
“Post-partum blues are common and usually resolve 10 days after giving birth, but when they are intense, the risk of post-partum depression increases four-fold.”
Postnatal depression affects more than one in every five new mothers and usually starts within the first month of after childbirth – though it can appear any time in the first year.
A widespread problem
With so many mums going through the throes of postnatal depression, it’s good to see that even celebrities are coming to the fore with their stories from the frontline. From Chrissy Teigen to pop star Adele, the stories being shared are a great way to get other mums realising that they are not alone, and that they CAN seek help. Even Dads are sharing their stories because postnatal depression can effect them, too.
Many regular mums have also started to share their experiences, further encouraging other women to speak up and get the help that they desperately need. And if YOU happen to know someone going through similar, here are some ways you can support them in their time of need.
Let’s hope that studies like this continue to reveal more ways we can fight the good fight against the black dog that is postnatal depression. Mums need all the help they can get, and if something as simple as including blueberries in your post-partum diet makes things better for even a few mums, then these studies were worth the time and effort.
If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of PND – please don’t be afraid to reach out. PANDA are waiting for your call and want to help.