• Philip Niño Tan-Gatue

Acupuncture for Postpartum Depression

Baby Blues




Postpartum depression means depression that happens after a woman gives birth. It can range from a mild series of symptoms characterized by the slang term "baby blues" to severe cases of depression. Some cases even border on psychosis. The Mayo Clinic website (link) lists the mild symptoms of baby blues as such:

  • Mood swings

  • Anxiety

  • Sadness

  • Irritability

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Crying

  • Reduced concentration

  • Appetite problems

  • Trouble sleeping

However, when we talk about postpartum depression, the symptoms are usually more severe and last longer:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings

  • Excessive crying

  • Difficulty bonding with your baby

  • Withdrawing from family and friends

  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual

  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much

  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy

  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy

  • Intense irritability and anger

  • Fear that you're not a good mother

  • Hopelessness

  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy

  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions

  • Restlessness

  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks

  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Finally, there is postpartum psychosis:


  • Confusion and disorientation

  • Obsessive thoughts about your baby

  • Hallucinations and delusions

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Excessive energy and agitation

  • Paranoia

  • Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

Acupuncture

In this study (link), scientists wanted to measure how acupuncture could help with postpartum depression. To this end, they analyzed eight different studies and made a meta-analyis of them. When all was said and done, there was significant difference in Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. However, the study doesn't mention what specific version of the Scale it uses as there exists several forms and modifications.


The meta-analysis reports, however, that there was no significant difference when it comes to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression scale rankings or serum blood markers.


What this means to me personally is that the use of acupuncture for postpartum depression can be done, but I personally cannot recommend it with as much confidence as I may like.



Sources:

Carrozzino, D., Patierno, C., Fava, G., & Guidi, J. (2020, April 14). The Hamilton Rating Scales for Depression: A Critical Review of Clinimetric Properties of Different Versions. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/506879


Postpartum depression. (2018, September 01). Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617


Li W, Yin P, Lao L, Xu S. Effectiveness of Acupuncture Used for the Management of Postpartum Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Biomed Res Int. 2019 Mar 20;2019:6597503. doi: 10.1155/2019/6597503. PMID: 31016194; PMCID: PMC6446093.

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