Could a Supplement Protect Moms From Postpartum Depression?

postpartum depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a maddening disorder. After you've been waiting months, maybe even years, to become a mother, all you feel is overwhelmingly, unconscionably sad. Around one in seven women is affected, and PPD doesn't discriminate. Chrissy Teigen, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Drew Barrymore ALL struggled with this serious mood disorder after becoming a mom. The good news is that PPD is treatable with counseling, antidepressants, or both. But according to a new study published in the medical journal PNAS, some researchers may have found a potential way to prevent PPD from even starting.


Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis found that around 75 percent of women experience a healthy type of "baby blues" that peaks on day five following a birth. Women who have a severe case of the baby blues are more likely to get PPD, so researchers devised a little dietary cocktail using blueberry juice and blueberry extract to see if it would provide new moms with some protection.

More from CafeMom: Postpartum Depression vs. Baby Blues: 9 Ways to Tell the Difference

Inside the blueberry juice they handed out to women were two important ingredients: tryptophan and tyrosine. These amino acids have a lot to do with regulating your mood, but they take a hit in some women who've just given birth and have estrogen levels that are suddenly in the toilet.

The results of the study? Women who had this daily drink scored better on mood assessments and weren't as likely to show signs of deep sadness and depression that could be a precursor to PPD. 

This is promising news, says Sherry Ross, MD, an ob-gyn and women's health expert at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. "Preventing postpartum depression through dietary supplements is potentially an exciting non-prescription treatment option," she says.

Still, Dr. Ross adds, this was a small study and more research is needed to validate the findings. In other words, don't run out to the store and load up on random and unnecessary supplements.

More from CafeMom: How to Banish Your Back-to-Work Fears

What you can safely do is pay more attention to getting trytophan and tyrosine in your diet, especially when you're pregnant or right after you've given birth. Both of these important proteins are found naturally in eggs, poultry, dairy products, nuts, and seeds.

Most importantly, if you find yourself sinking into an abyss, realize that there's no shame in getting help. The reasons why some women bounce right back after childbirth -- acting like sleep deprivation is NBD -- while others crawl into the bathroom and sob are complicated. There's sleep deprivation. (Duh.) A drastic change in hormone levels. A family history of depression that's finally come back to bite you in the ass. Family probs. Lack of social support. Money troubles ... We could go on.

Admitting you're struggling doesn't mean you're a failure as a parent. Just the opposite -- it means you know you need help and you're gonna get it.

If you suffer from PPD and need someone to speak to, call the National Hopeline Network at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). This hotline's open 24/7 and is free.

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