Dr. Kristina Deligiannidis, a perinatal psychiatrist at Massachusetts’s Feinstein Institute, has found that Pitocin, a drug prescribed to induce uterine contractions during delivery, as well as stop postpartum hemorrhaging may also be partially responsible for causing postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety in new mothers, regardless of their past mental history. In fact, her studies have shown that Pitocin (a synthetic version of oxytocin) actually increased the risk for “baby blues” by between 32%-36% compared with women not prescribed the drug.
“We were really surprised by the finding,” she stated while admitting that her research is “statistical,” rather than conclusive. At the same time she felt that while the correlation between Pitocin and postpartum depression “isn’t causation, it would be unethical to give the drug to women in labor just to test a hypothesis.”
While PPD is believed to be brought on by hormonal changes during delivery, the actual cause still remains unclear, despite the fact that between 0.5% to 61% of all women experience depression after giving birth. However, a new clue may have also been found by Lisa Christian of Ohio State University who has been investigating a decrease of a hormone known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) found in many baby blue sufferers.
According to Christian, women who exhibited “steeper declines of BDNF had a greater risk for depression late in pregnancy, and also had a higher risk for delivering babies with low birth weight.”
Other hormones studied in regard to postpartum depression include changes in levels of estrogen, progesterone, thyroid hormone, testosterone, corticotropin releasing hormone, and cortisol. Meanwhile, it should be noted that postpartum depression is one of the leading causes of the infanticide in the US, reported to occur in approximately 8 out of every 100,000 children under the age of 12 months.
Symptoms of PPD often include feelings of great sorrow; hopelessness; being overwhelmed; low self-esteem and a sense of inadequacy in regard to being able to care for the infant, which can also bring on guilt; an inability to be comforted; exhaustion brought on by sleep and eating disturbances; emptiness, social withdrawal; loss of self; being easily frustrated and decreased sex drive, in addition to anxiety brought on by “lack of support” from a spouse of other a romantic partner. Still, depending on the severity of the case, many women are able to overcome the baby blues with counseling and the aid of a support group, as well as with medication.
In the meantime, dietary suggestions for people suffering deep depression include avoiding fried foods as well as anything else high in saturated fats, and pork. In the meantime, complex carbohydrates, which increase the level of tryptophan in the brain have been found to having a “calming” effect, while protein meals with essential fatty acids can help increase alertness. In fact, people who are depressed often benefit by eating foods such as salmon, white fish, and turkey. Eating plenty of raw fruits and vegetables as well as soybeans and soy products may also be beneficial. However, individuals should always consult with their healthcare provider before making any major changes to your diet.