Naturopathic doctors are trained to look for the root problem causing someone's symptoms, rather than just making the symptoms go away. If we address the underlying cause, we can allow the symptoms to recede for good. This is no different for postpartum women, and there are a number of reasons WHY women develop postpartum mood disorders. Naturopathic doctors, especially those trained in the art of midwifery or who have had special training in pregnancy and birth, are very well-equipped to figure out how to best help each woman on an individual basis. Dr. Adriana Azacarate-Ferbel is a Portland area Naturopath who has studied Postpartum depression extensively. I met with her last fall when I began researching this topic more myself. She outlined the most common underlying reasons for development of Postpartum depression:
- Fatigue and Sleep Deprivation
- Immune system dysregulation
- Low Cholesterol levels
- Hormone imbalance
- Insulin resistance
Sometimes, it may be a combination of one or more of these that can cause postpartum mood disorders to develop. Because this is true for many women, the Naturopathic approach is multifactorial as well. The earlier we can recognize the symptoms and determine what's actually going on, the better. In my office, a primary work-up to determine the underlying cause may include:
- Thyroid testing, followed by nutritional supplementation and/or medicine to balance the thyroid gland (if needed)
- Combination Hormone and Adrenal Saliva testing, followed by treatment with herbs and nutrients known to balance female hormones, DHEA, and/or cortisol (and are safe for breastfeeding).
- Lipid panel, to look at cholesterol levels, followed by nutritional counseling to ensure adequate levels.
- Comp. metabolic screen, Iron panel, and Complete blood count, to assess for blood sugar issues, anemia, and immune system problems
- Musculoskeletal assessment to determine sources of pain that may be adding to increased stress and fatigue, followed by massage, acupuncture, or other forms of physiotherapy
- In some cases, neurotransmitter testing will be done first. This is especially true if someone has a marked history of depression, anxiety, or psychosis.
I could write pages and pages on this topic. This is just a jumping-off point. There is still a lot to learn about this realm of women's health, but we have a very good grasp on how to make the transition to motherhood a happy and healthy time.
Be strong. Live healthy!