Will marijuana become an option to treat Postpartum Depression? The sadness, anxiety, and sleeplessness that can come shortly after a woman gives birth to a child, which can affect many new mothers. Systematically, healthcare providers write prescriptions for antidepressants and psychotherapy. Yet, many are questioning the efficacy and safety of these treatments. Many new mothers and fathers are arrivign at the question, can marijuana treat postpartum depression? And what are the benefits and potential risks of cannabis treatment?
The symptoms of PPD involves feelings of depression, irritability, inability to sleep and mood swings. Though it is not fully understood as to what causes PPD, though most attribute it to fluctuating hormone levels, especially estrogen and progesterone, and parental anxiety.
Classified as a major depressive disorder, PPD affects a minimum of 15% of mothers according to a study in the US National Library of Medicine. In real life, this figure is a lot higher. Many mothers feel guilty about experiencing PPD and do not report their symptoms.
Doctors typically prescribe antidepressants for PPD. Most believe that there is little to no risk in taking anti-depressants during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Even when there is some risk, many advocate for their use anyway. Studies show that the threat that a depressed mother poses to a child’s development is often considered riskier than antidepressant medication.
Just because antidepressants are commonly prescribed doesn’t mean that they don’t pose a serious risk. A study published by the Department of Pediatric Cardiology and Intensive Care Medicine in Germany found that Sertraline, a popular antidepressant, can result in neonatal abstinence syndrome and serotonergic over-stimulation when prescribed to breastfeeding mothers.
These conditions manifest in tremors, crying, sleep issues, fevers and sweating. In the study, these symptoms worsened until the mother stopped breastfeeding. Though this case was perhaps an outlier, these consequences should be cause for concern.
To make matters worse, doctors commonly give Sertraline to women with PPD because of its low transferability. What are the risks of even more powerful anti-depressants?
Another common treatment for PPD is therapy. Due to cost, time, and distance, however, therapy isn’t always a practical solution.
Today, it’s a common belief that breastfeeding is crucial to the mother and the baby’s health. In a study published by the University of Adelaide, researcher Dr. Grzeskowiak states, “breastfeeding has immense benefits for the child and the mum herself, including a degree of protection against post-natal depression.”
He argues that it’s critical to breastfeeding through the sixth month. This study also found that 57% of women suffering from PPD who stopped taking antidepressants stopped breastfeeding before six months. Medication, though often necessary to continue the beneficial process of breastfeeding, poses a health threat.
Marijuana as an antidepressant
Can Marijuana Treat Postpartum Depression?
Cannabis is becoming an increasingly common treatment for depression. At Buffalo’s Institute on Addictions, senior researcher Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane found that “chronic stress reduced the production of endocannabinoids, leading to depression.”
Endocannabinoids are found in the human nervous system. They regulate mood, pain sensitivity, and other important bodily processes. These neurotransmitters are also found in weed.
Dr. Haj-Dahmane explains, “Using compounds derived from cannabis to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression.” Dr. Haj-Dahmane also points out, marijuana can be an effective tool for coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Just because more women are smoking marijuana during or after pregnancy does not mean that it is safe.
The threat is due to marijuana’s psychoactive cannabinoid, THC. If eaten while breastfeeding, THC can enter the baby’s bloodstream. Studies conducted in Pittsburgh and Ottawa maintain that THC affects a child’s long-term ability to read, focus and feel emotions.
This research focused on mothers who ingested THC while pregnant, not necessarily while breastfeeding.
To answer the question: can marijuana treat postpartum depression—potentially. If you’re not breastfeeding, consider talking to your doctor about consuming cannabis to alleviate depression and anxiety.
If you are breastfeeding and you want to use marijuana, use products derived solely from CBD yet be aware that investigatvei studies are far from conclusive. We’ll have a clearer answer once we clear the smoke surrounding the benefits and disadvantages of medicinal marijuana.
And remember: if you suffer from postpartum depression, it’s not your fault. Don’t be ashamed to seek help and support.