Acupuncture – effective and safe treatment for pregnancy depression
I’ve written on the subject of depression and acupuncture before. Now a new and largest study to date published in Obstetrics & Gynaecology confirms acupuncture to be effective for antenatal or pregnancy depression. There are good reasons why, for the benefit of developing babies, acupuncture becomes a mainstream therapy for this condition.
1 in 7 pregnant women may suffer the baby blues
Pregnancy depression is more common than previously thought. Now an influential body of US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all women in pregnancy are screened for the condition affecting health not only of the mother but also of the developing baby (January 26, 2016).
Why antidepressants is such a bad idea during pregnancy?
Since 2008 NZ Medsafe has been warning that SSRI antidepressant use in pregnancy may increase the risk of congenital abnormalities and that in later stages of pregnancy can lead to neonatal complications indicative of a withdrawal syndrome, and to persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn; and that doctors need to discuss this with their patients.
Some antidepressants were considered to be relatively safe not so long ago, but there is more and more evidence confirming that any kind of antidepressants may temporarily or permanently harm the developing foetus. The March 2010 issue of Pediatrics reports that antidepressants may permanently or reversibly affect fetal brain development.
Why you shouldn’t delay and address pregnancy depression as soon as it is diagnosed
- Many thousands of preterm births could be prevented if women diagnosed with the condition receive treatment during pregnancy.
- Antenatal depression and stress increase cortisol levels; this may lead to babies, who are born small and possibly smaller brains in proportion to their bodies.
- Babies born to mothers with this debilitating condition have a blunted stress response, which may mean it is harder for them to react to stressful situations.
- Antenatal stress can alter the structure of her offspring’s brain, particularly regions vital for emotional development [reference]
- Antenatal depression has a long-term effect on the child. Children born to stressed mothers have shown abnormally high cortisol levels at age 10!
The bottom line? Depression during pregnancy may harm the developing foetus and so can antidepressants. Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for antenatal and postnatal depression. If you are pregnant and suspect that you may be suffering from depression, remember to discuss acupuncture with your obstetrician, midwife or GP and give me a ring!