FEATURE — Childbirth and motherhood are supposed to be special times for a woman. Some of life’s happiest moments come with motherhood, but for some new moms, holding on to that happiness can be difficult when the fog of postpartum depressions lingers over each day.
In November 2018, I conducted an initial phone consultation with Maggie, a 28-year-old stay-at-home mother of three from Arizona whose struggles with postpartum depression and anxiety were keeping her from being present in her own life.
For Maggie, the anxiety and foreboding she had experienced mildly earlier in her life were intensified with postpartum depression. Feelings of sadness and guilt for not feeling like a “glowing new mother” weighed heavily on her. Afraid of the stigma sometimes associated with postpartum depression, Maggie suffered in silence.
Her depression and anxiety didn’t manifest themselves as textbook symptoms. Her primary symptom was a feeling that she was a failure every moment of the day even though her family was happy. She always felt like she wasn’t doing enough.
After the birth of her first child, Maggie miscarried. After the birth of her second child, she immediately was overwhelmed by the same anxious, foggy feelings she had felt after her first child was born. With the support of her husband, Maggie sought help and got on medication for a short time before they were ready to expand their family.
Sadly, Maggie miscarried again. With each event, postpartum depression and anxiety hit harder than before. She was blessed with her third child, and knowing that postpartum depression can get worse with each child, Maggie made the decision to start treatment right after the delivery.
Although she was grateful for the decision she had made, Maggie was also aware that she could not be on the prescribed medication for more than six months. Eventually the side effects of the medication became more noticeable, causing her to make the decision to adjust her dosage.
At the time of our initial phone consultation, she had been on prescription medication almost a year. Maggie’s family had kept a close eye on her and could see how she was struggling to keep her head above water. Although her sister Timaree had not experienced postpartum depression, she had spent years battling mental health issues. Having lived through the heartache, hopelessness and pain that comes with depression and anxiety, she saw herself in her little sister.
Employed by a pharmacy, Timaree knew about help that she wished had been available to her years prior and suggested that Maggie schedule a consultation and explore natural alternatives for healing.
“My sister threw me a lifeline,” she said.
As Maggie and I created a starting point for her treatment, we agreed that we needed to focus on her emotional distress first. After all, she had been struggling with postpartum depression for nearly five years at the time of our consultation.
Maggie’s initial protocol included a small variety of essential and nonessential amino acids and a high-quality fish oil supplement. Once she started feeling a shift mentally and emotionally, we introduced a few more supplements. Because she was missing her gallbladder, she began using a comprehensive blend of enzymes for digestion and absorption as well as an iron supplement to address her bouts with anemia.
With my guidance and Maggie’s determination to make a lasting change, she learned to self-regulate her amino acid dosages and frequencies according to her needs.
Getting back to life and finding joy again
It took about three months before Maggie noticed the improvements in her mental health and well-being. She described the change as a blanket being lifted off of her. She was finally ready to start tapering off her prescription medication.
Slowly, her family noticed the changes in her too.
As Maggie began participating in her life again, hope returned to her, and she was once again a successful, driven woman capable of handling failure without feeling like one.
A year has passed since Maggie began treatment. During our follow-up visit, Maggie explained that for the first time in her life, she felt like she was finally in control of her health. She described herself as a new and improved version of herself, and she was happy to have lost 57 pounds, a fact she attributes to her ability to be active again. What is more, Maggie knows how to help her own children should they begin to show signs of anxiety.
There are many parents who needlessly suffer in silence through postpartum depression and anxiety, unaware of the many avenues for healing that may be available to them or frustrated by the seemingly limited or ineffective options that have been provided for them.
Postpartum facts and statistics
According to a recent study, in the United States alone, approximately 70-80% of women will experience, at a minimum, the “baby blues.” Many of these women will experience the more severe condition of postpartum depression. It’s important to understand that these numbers only account for live births.
Many women who miscarry or have stillbirths experience postpartum depression symptoms as well. When including women who have miscarried or had a stillbirth, around 900,000 women suffer from postpartum depression annually in the United States.
According to Women’s Health, 1 in 9 women experience some degree of postpartum depression and/or anxiety.
The Mayo Clinic states that men also experience some form of paternal postpartum depression, as well as generalized depression or anxiety regardless of whether their partners are experiencing similar symptoms. Studies also show that children raised by parents struggling with postpartum depression have bouts of excessive crying, experience delays in speech development and are prone to developing emotional and behavioral problems.
Over the past few years, my team and I have done a lot of writing, and I’ve been lecturing in public forums about amino acid therapy. It is important to know that amino acid therapy is unique to every person. Therefore, I don’t go into a lot of detail about specific amino acids or amino acid combinations. They are as unique in the way they work as you are unique as an individual person.
Amino acids don’t require a prescription from your doctor, but we highly advise you to let your doctor know of any over-the-counter medications, vitamins or supplements that you are taking.
Written by KOBY TAYLOR, PharmD and Fusion Pharmacy.
This article was first published in St. George Health and Wellness magazine.