Postpartum depression, often abbreviated as PPD, is a complex and serious mental health condition that affects new mothers after giving birth. It differs from the “baby blues,” a milder and more common emotional state that many women experience shortly after childbirth. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, is characterized by intense and prolonged feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion, which can last for weeks or even months.
Importantly, post-partum depression is associated with poor attachment with the infant and carries with it an increased risk of maternal suicide. These can all be mitigated through appropriate treatment with either therapy, medications or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION?
New moms can complete the Edinburgh Post-Natal Depression Scale (EPDS) here. If you score higher than 10 on this scale, then you are likely suffering from at least a mild form of depression that would benefit from treatment.
Fortunately, many treatment options are available for new moms with post-partum depression.
1.) Psychotherapy: Short-term Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) have both been shown to be helpful for post-partum depression. These can be suitable for mild to moderate post-partum depression. However, it can be difficult for new mothers to attend sessions with a newborn.
2.) Medications: Conventional antidepressant medications (fluoxetine, sertraline, fluvoxamine, and venlafaxine) have shown efficacy in the treatment of postpartum depression. In all of these studies, standard antidepressant doses were effective and well tolerated.
Breastfeeding: Antidepressants are passed into the breast milk to varying degrees. However, available data on the tricyclic antidepressants, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline during breastfeeding have been encouraging and suggest that significant complications related to neonatal exposure to psychotropic drugs in breast milk appear to be rare. However, some mothers may be uncomfortable with any medicatiion being secreted through breast milk to their newborn.
3.) Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: All of the studies conducted thus far indicate that rTMS is safe and well tolerated in women with postpartum depression. Treatment resulted in improvement in depressive symptoms with remission rates higher than the general population and ranging from 66% to 90% in open label trials in under 4 weeks.
The advantages of TMS for Post-Partum Depression:
a) Quick Response: Remission occurs within weeks with accelerated treatment protocols. Women can get back to being mothers as soon as possible to limit the impact of depression on important attachment and baby development.
b) No concerns around breastfeeding as nothing is secreted into the breast milk.
c) Well-tolerated without any long-term systemic side effects (weight gain, sexual side effects)
d) Short sessions (3 minutes per session) allow for flexibility around time away from the newborn.
If you have any questions around TMS for the treatment of post-partum depression, then please do not hesitate to e-mail or contact our clinic.