Can Acupuncture Help Treat Depression During Pregnancy?

Perinatal depression (depression that occurs during pregnancy or within a year after giving birth) is a common medical complication. It affects around 15 percent of women in the United States.

According to acupuncturists in Santa Rosa, several factors before, during, and after pregnancy contribute to stress and inflammation, elevating the risk of depression. Clinicians aren’t sure exactly how pregnancy causes depression. In some cases, an influx of hormones could be to blame. For some women, the fear of childbirth and labor could trigger depression.

If left untreated, depression can have far-reaching effects on both the mother and baby’s health. Stress can result in poor diet, preterm delivery, pregnancy complications, and substance abuse.

Many studies link untreated depression following birth with low self-esteem, marital disruption, maternal withdrawal, and disengagement. In a worst-case scenario, a woman trying to cope with perinatal depression could attempt suicide.

Perinatal depression can also affect a baby’s long-term cognitive, emotional, and physical development.

Doctors often face an ethical dilemma when prescribing antidepressants to their pregnant patients as antidepressants, including popular SSRI and SNRI drugs, have various side effects.

Babies exposed to antidepressants in the womb may experience breathing problems, irritability, and low blood sugar. Some other reported risks for the baby include miscarriage, heart defects, low birth weight, and low Apgar scores.

Studies report that some families of antidepressants target vital hormones, including serotonin, and affect the placenta. No wonder many pregnant women are concerned about the use of antidepressants.

Acupuncture is a safe alternative to antidepressants. An acupuncturist inserts several paper-thin needles through the skin at strategic points to create that trigger a flurry of immune, nervous, and inflammatory responses.

Acupuncture stimulates the vagus nerve, which connects the organs with the brain to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF and IL-6. Many studies have shown that long-term acupuncture treatments can increase levels of IL-10 (anti-inflammatory) cytokines and balance the levels of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines.

A trial conducted by Stanford University School of Medicine on 150 pregnant women with major depressive disorder found that subjects who received depression-specific acupuncture experienced a 63 percent reduction in symptoms. In contrast, women who received control acupuncture and massage experienced a 44 percent reduction in their depression symptoms.

Acupuncture Mama is a team of skilled and experienced acupuncturists in Santa RosaPregnancy is a life-changing event. Memories associated with pregnancy should be blissful, not traumatizing. We use acupuncture to help expecting mothers and new mothers avoid complications. To make an appointment, call (707) 303-7200. 

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