Can Acupuncture help Postpartum Depression?

Help with Postpartum Depression

Help for Postpartum Depression

You’ve been waiting for your baby to arrive for months, if not years, and you are thrilled to finally meet your new baby! But then, out of nowhere, you notice that you’re more anxious than usual, you’re crying for no reason at all, you’re having trouble concentrating, maybe you doubt your ability to care for your baby. These are all possible symptoms of postpartum depression.

‘Postpartum depression’ is an overarching term for conditions that range from a few weeks of the “baby blues” to longer periods of postpartum PTSD, postpartum OCD, and postpartum panic disorder. The Centers for Disease Control say that about 11% of postpartum people are affected by some form of postpartum mood disorder. In some states, that estimate can be up to 20% of postpartum people. Postpartum mood disorders can also affect people who experience pregnancy loss.

Some factors that play into developing postpartum mood disorders are the sharp drop in hormones after giving birth, sleep deprivation, changes in the production of thyroid hormones, among other physical changes. The massive lifestyle changes and a sense of loss of control over one’s life can also be a factor. Some people are simply predisposed to developing postpartum depression.

Acupuncture is well known for alleviating painful conditions, like low back pain, but it has been used for centuries for all sorts of conditions, including mood disorders. A relatively recent study showed that the combination of daily acupuncture and talk therapy was as effective as Prozac in reducing the symptoms of postpartum depression, with no adverse side effects.

Acupuncture excels at promoting a parasympathetic “rest and digest” response, lowering blood pressure, reducing the stress hormones circulating in the body. It can also help the body recover from the process of birth, reducing pain and inflammation. Acupuncture is thought to balance the neurotransmitters and impact the expression of certain genes involved in depression. Acupuncture is also known to help improve sleep, which is essential to your health postpartum.

Don’t underestimate the value of simply taking time for yourself in your journey to recovering from pregnancy and delivery of your baby.

Your acupuncturist may recommend weekly treatment along with herbal treatment. It’s also common to recommend dietary changes and other lifestyle changes, based on your unique patterns. In general, we recommend that people who have recently given birth eat easily digestible foods like soups, stews, congee (watery porridge), cooked vegetables, and plenty of protein. These foods help build back the body’s “vital substances” that were depleted with childbirth – even if you had an “easy” birth. We also recommend that you stay warm, especially around your abdomen, and get as much rest as you can (we know, easier said than done!).

Learn more and schedule an appointment

If you would like some support on your postpartum journey, or if you want to try to avoid postpartum mood issues, please contact us to see if we’re a good fit for you. We would be delighted to be part of your family’s care team.

Established patients can schedule online, patients who haven’t seen us at Kwan Yin Healing Center call (503) 701-8766, or email us to schedule your appointment.

About Lisa Tongel

We are practitioners of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine specializing in fertility, IVF support, pregnancy care, reproductive health, and pelvic pain.