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Postpartum Depression

Researchers Say Dietary Supplement May Help Cure Postpartum Depression

posted 12:18 AM EST, Wed May 05, 2010

Canadian researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto say they’ve figured out why some women succumb to postpartum depression after childbirth – and they say that they’re working on a dietary supplement that may well reduce the severity of the condition.

Researchers in Toronto say they’ve discovered neurological changes that occur after childbirth that very likely explain the baby blues and post partum depression.

Using PET scans, the researchers compared the brains of health very new moms to women who had not recently been pregnant. They found that levels of a brain chemical called MAO-A were 43% higher in women who had given birth 4 to 6 days previously, compared to women who had not recently been pregnant.

The difference in MAO-A levels was most striking on the fifth day after childbirth, which is the day that postpartum depression is usually at its worst.

MAO-A is a neurochemical that removes serotonin from the brain. Since serotonin is a neurochemical that is necessary for regulating normal moods, an MAO-A caused reduction in serotonin can lead to a depressed mood. Elevated levels of MAO-A have already been research linked to other forms of depression.

Lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey Meyer of CAMH commented on the significance of the findings by saying, “Understanding the biology of postpartum blues is important because when it is severe it leads to clinical level postpartum depression, the most common complication of childbearing affecting 13% of mothers, and one that can have a devastating impact. We hope this information may be used in the future to create dietary supplements that could provide the nutrients removed by high MAO-A and lower the risk for postpartum depression.”

Roughly 80% of new moms experience the baby blues and 10-15% experience post partum depression.

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