Cannabis for Postpartum Depression
Pregnancy can be the most delightful period in any woman’s life, but it comes with its own challenges. Aside from the physical changes that occur in a woman’s body, she also goes through many emotional and mental changes before, during, and after pregnancy.
New mothers have to face extreme adjustments when getting ready for life with a newborn. There’s the lack of sleep, breast pain, and all the added responsibilities that are of course a joy for new parents. However, some mothers go through something much worse – in the form of postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 mothers. This is a type of depression that affects mothers after delivering a baby; it can begin any time within the infant’s first year although it most commonly affects mothers after the first three weeks following labor. Symptoms of postpartum depression include feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and sadness. Mothers suffering from this condition tend to cry throughout the day for no particular reason, lose interest in food and sex, and have difficulty with learning, memory, and focus. It doesn’t just affect first-time mothers; any woman who gives birth at any time in her life is prone to experiencing postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is caused by several factors, primarily hormones which soar to extreme levels during pregnancy. This alone is enough to trigger depression – the same effect that you feel when you’re moody before getting your period, although it’s much worse for expectant mothers. Other causes include a history of depression, exposure to stress and other problems during pregnancy (such as an unexpected pregnancy), and more.
Doctors prescribe antidepressants for mothers to deal with postpartum depression, although these medications often have many side effects. Counseling can also help, but even in the best cases sometimes this isn’t enough; but cannabis can help.
How Can Cannabis Help?
One of cannabis’ most well-known therapeutic properties is its ability to fight depression. It’s one of the top reasons why patients seek out medical cannabis. Each of the various cannabinoids in the plant has shown to be promising in the treatment of postpartum depression.
A 2007 study showed that when THC was taken in low doses, it has powerful antidepressant properties. However, when taken in high doses, the animal subjects actually experienced more depression.
Another large scale study showed that general consumption of cannabis wasn’t linked to mood disorders or depression. The researchers analyzed 35,000 people for three years and found no negative effects on mood after consuming cannabis. However, THC may be getting a bad rap when it comes to its use during and after pregnancy. This is one of the most highly debated subjects in the cannabis community, although many mothers swear that cannabis had no side effects on their pregnancy or newborns. It’s not uncommon for mothers to use cannabis during pregnancy and give birth to healthy kids; in fact it’s even common practice among expectant mothers in Jamaica.
However, CBD may be more promising in the treatment of postpartum depression especially for new moms who don’t want to get high. There are dozens of studies done showing promise on the use of CBD to treat depression and other mood-related disorders. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) are commonly prescribed by doctors to treat depression although many people don’t find any relief from it and it can have side effects. CBD is a good natural alternative to taking SSRI’s since they work similarly. SSRI’s work by targeting the serotonin receptors in the brain, causing the brain to restrict absorption of serotonin so that there is more available in the brain. Having more serotonin means that the synaptic spaces in the brain are more effective in communicating positive signals which is necessary to reduce depression and other mood disorders. A Spanish study showed that CBD treatments are similar with SSRI’s and in fact show to be more effective than traditional medicines.
Humans have turned to cannabis to treat a wide spectrum of conditions for centuries now, including depression. It would come as no surprise to see its efficacy in helping mothers cope with postpartum depression and go on to live healthy lives, along with their babies, whether or not they have used cannabis in the past.
Have you used cannabis to treat postpartum depression? What was your experience like?
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Published at Mon, 08 May 2017 05:00:00 +0000