Why You Should Try Acupuncture for Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Bringing a newborn baby into the world is a truly happy and fulfilling experience. After spending 40 weeks anticipating the arrival of their new bundle, many moms are thrilled to begin their motherhood journey. With all of the responsibilities that come along with caring for an infant, it is not uncommon for many women to neglect their own needs. When it comes to postpartum depression, about 10% of new mothers in the UK are believed to be affected by it. Though hospitals attempt to screen for postpartum depression, the signs and symptoms can sometimes take up to six weeks to reveal themselves. If you are currently experiencing symptoms that amount to far more than just the baby blues, then read on to learn why you should try acupuncture for postpartum depression treatment.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression can affect different women in different ways. It can be short-term sadness or even rise to the level of psychosis. Common symptoms start out as tiredness, anxiety, excessive crying, guilt, shame, and irritability. In some women, these symptoms will resolve on their own. In others, they may continue to become worse about three to four weeks after delivery. As postpartum depression worsens, some women will suffer from additional mental symptoms such as poor memory recall, an inability to concentrate or make decisions, and a feeling of failure.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective of Postpartum Depression
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the strain that childbirth puts on a mother’s body brings with it a substantial amount of blood and fluid loss. Chinese medicine point of view, postpartum people are extremely blood deficient.
Women experiencing postpartum depression are often also experiencing these patterns:
- Blood stasis
- Deficiency of liver blood
- Liver stagnation
- Deficiency of kidney and heart yin
- Spleen deficiency
When the spleen is not properly functioning, both phlegm and dampness may result. Since giving birth creates liver stress, many TCM treatments for postpartum depression include invigorating and regulating the liver while alleviating liver stagnation.
How Can Acupuncture for Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Help?
Acupuncture for postpartum depression treatment can help in a number of ways. For example:
Promotes relaxation: To help women improve their postpartum symptoms, it is important that relaxation and stress reduction are emphasised along with the promotion of physical healing in an effort to restore balance. In fact, a study in the Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science demonstrated that women who used acupuncture for postpartum depression treatment reported a 50% reduction of depression symptoms in their systems. This was almost identical to the results achieved through the use of prescription drugs.
Reduces stress: The use of acupuncture has been shown to improve the symptoms of stress and anxiety. This is thanks to its ability to bring balance to the autonomic nervous system. A study out of the Department of Anesthesiology at Stanford University found that treatment with acupuncture improved heart rate variability, an indication of physiological stress, due to its effect on the autonomic nervous system.
Promotes physical healing: Acupuncture promotes biophysical, biochemical, and neuronal reactions which encourage the healing process. Inflammatory cytokines are often present in those suffering from depression. Needling can activate nerve endings and result in an anti-inflammatory effect while improving serotonin levels.
Restores balance: Practitioners of TCM aim to restore balance to improve a patient’s health and wellbeing. Using moxibustion, an ancient TCM practice that uses heat from the burning of the mugwort herb to stimulate acupuncture points, can tonify and purify both yang and Qi as it brings needed nourishment to the blood to alleviating depletion. Resolving stagnation improves blood flow and promotes healing while bringing balance to sex hormones.
Other Benefits of Acupuncture Post Birth
In addition to being an effective postpartum depression treatment, acupuncture has many other benefits for new moms.
- Post Labor Recovery: Not only does it bring relief from pain and help to manage stress, but it also can improve post labor recovery.
- Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: Acupuncture’s ability to heal tissue means that muscle function and blood circulation will be improved as a result. As the body heals from the physical strain of labor and delivery, acupuncture can help to resolve pelvic floor dysfunction.
- Hormonal Balance: Using acupuncture, hormone levels can be brought into proper balance while increase the levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin.
- Better Digestion: Acupuncture’s ability to strengthen the tract of the intestines means digestion is also improved through treatment with acupuncture.
Self-Care for Postpartum Depression Treatment
Acupuncture alone will not magically alleviate all the symptoms associated with postpartum depression. It is important to get ample rest, build a routine, and allow the body to recover.
Rest: If able, it is important to rest and recover by staying home. Staying home will also allow for ample time to care for your baby. Rest and relaxation are also beneficial at warding off postpartum depression. Women who were coached on proper relaxation techniques were shown to be less likely to develop postpartum depression when compared to those who received no coaching.
Get in a routine: Being a routine of simple housework while recuperating from the stress of delivery.
Diet: Certain nutrients are essential in greater quantity for post birth recovery. Eat foods that nourish the Kidneys such as black beans, fish, seaweed.
The stress and anxiety that comes along with welcoming a newborn baby are far more than just being overwhelmed by the addition of a new family member. The strain of childbirth depletes the body of fluids while causing deficiencies in the spleen and both heart and kidney yin along with liver stagnation. This can bring with it irritability and uncontrollable crying. This is often more than just a feeling of sadness that will pass. Acupuncture for postpartum depression can help to restore hormone balance, reduce stress, promote healing and even relieve the pain associated with child birth. If you are looking for a natural, drug-free treatment to help improve your symptoms of postpartum depression, speak to you a TCM practitioner about your options.
For more information about how Chinese Medicine can help you with postpartum depression, book your free consultation with our Chinese Medicine experts today
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our clinics website: GinSen where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.