Most women experience “baby blues” after delivery, with symptoms such as insomnia, mood swings, and crying spells, and these usually abate after a few weeks. For some women, though, these symptoms can persist and even deepen to the point of depression. The good news is that this condition can often be alleviated with some simple hormone balancing treatments.
Causes of Postpartum Depression
As you might guess, pregnancy and childbirth trigger big physical changes in the mother’s body. Among these changes are a sudden and dramatic increase in the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones play a crucial role in the development of the baby.
Once the child is delivered, the body begins to readjust to its “nonpregnant” state, and part of that adjustment is a significant decrease in estrogen and progesterone. While this is natural after childbirth, sometimes it can lead to an imbalance of these (and other) hormones and this imbalance can result in symptoms associated with postpartum depression.
Progesterone is important for the development of a growing unborn child, but it also plays a critical role in helping us feel “normal.” Among other things, progesterone has a mild sedative effect on the body that promotes calmness and relaxation. If the body is not producing enough progesterone in relation to the amount of estrogen it produces, it can lead to a condition called “estrogen dominance.”
All of the hormones work together to keep our bodies running properly and give us a sense of wellbeing. An imbalance of estrogen and progesterone in the system can lead to numerous symptoms, including mood swings, irritability, PMS, anxiety, and depression.
Women who seek help for these symptoms may be prescribed anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants. While these can be helpful at times for suppressing symptoms, it doesn’t get to the root of the problems they are experiencing. Sometimes a simpler, more natural alternative treatment can be very effective.
Detection and Treatment
Unlike blood tests, hormone saliva tests can show the amount of hormones in the system that are “unbound” and actively exert particular effects on the body. For this reason, a blood test may show “normal” hormone levels of progesterone or estrogen but not reveal how the hormones are actually affecting the body.
A saliva test is collected at home and produces a detailed report of numerous important hormone levels and relates them to the symptoms a person is having.
If tests reveal hormonal imbalances, a treatment plan can be relatively simple and straightforward. Hormones can often be supplemented with targeted doses of topical treatments. Excess estrogen can be reduced with specific herbal treatments. Once these hormones are restored to a proper balance, symptoms begin to diminish. Patients often report significant improvements within a few weeks of beginning these protocols.