How Cannabis Helps in Treating Postpartum Depression?

One can loosely describe postpartum depression as the feelings of sadness, anxiety, and insomnia that take a toll on many new mothers, right after childbirth. Healthcare providers typically recommend anti-depressants along with psychotherapy, though many questions arise whether these treatments are useful or safe enough. In recent times, numerous new parents are toying with the idea of consuming cannabis to treat postpartum depression. However, one should not take any such step without being completely aware of the benefits and potential risks associated.
cannabis postpartum depression
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What is postpartum depression

With Postpartum depression, symptoms such as depression, irritability, lack of sleep, and erratic mood patterns come along. Though the causes of PPD are still somewhat vague, it attributes to fluctuations in hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, and anxiety on becoming a new parent. A study in the US National Library of Medicine has revealed that PPD not only falls under the category of a major depressive disorder, but a minimum of 15% of mothers suffer from this condition, with the real-life figures being considerably higher. Several mothers suffer from feelings of guilt about PPD and thus, do not admit to going through the same.

Nevertheless, PPD can bring about an onslaught of physically and mentally taxing emotions that linger for quite some time post-childbirth, interfering with their day-to-day life, often depriving them of the ability to care for themselves. The symptoms of PPD are quite broad, which makes it challenging to diagnose. Lack of appetite and feelings of self-harm are just some of the signs.

Effect on cannabis on postpartum depression

Cannabis is increasingly gaining acceptance as a universal treatment for depression. Endocannabinoids, concerned with regulating mood, pain sensitivity, and other crucial body processes, are found in the human nervous system. The same neurotransmitters are also found in weed. Medical practitioners believe that when it comes to stabilizing moods and alleviating depression, compounds derived from cannabis to restore normal endocannabinoid function can prove to be significantly useful. Several cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are naturally found in cannabis plants like Indica and sativa.

One can maximize the medicinal efficacy of cannabis by incorporating these. Thanks to the increasing awareness about these aspects, cannabis has come to acquire large-scale acceptance as a means of treating conditions like anxiety, insomnia, and pain. Doctors have, in recent times, also specifically harped on the efficacy of marijuana for coping with post-traumatic stress disorder. It is now no longer a far-fetched idea to get weed online, and with the broader legalization of cannabis across several countries around the world, more and more consumers can easily have access to it.

Reportedly, consuming cannabis not only relieves much of the physical pain that arises from a C-section but also plays a crucial role in mitigating the symptoms of postpartum depression. One of the primary reasons for the rising popularity of cannabis amongst new mothers to battle postnatal depression is because of the quick response it shows. Of course, that is highly desirable for new mothers suffering from PPD, since they have an infant to look after.

However, smoking of any kind is not advisable when you are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because marijuana contains a psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, which can make its way into the baby’s bloodstream if ingested while breastfeeding. According to studies conducted in Pittsburgh and Ottawa, THC harms a child’s long-term ability to read, focus, and feel emotions. Since infants can also absorb THC through breast milk, it is advisable to avoid cannabis usage not only during pregnancy but also while breastfeeding, since both pose similar threats.

However, if you are not breastfeeding or are ready to switch to formula, cannabis might prove to be a better and safer alternative, as compared to other anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs that are commonly prescribed.

Why cannabis helps in fighting postpartum depression

While cannabis has been shown to act as an excellent anti-depressant for men and women alike, for women suffering from postpartum depression, cannabis can be a very welcoming solution. This is because immediately after childbirth, estrogen, and progesterone levels drop, which leads to erratic mood swings, just what happens during periods. Mood issues arise mainly because of low estrogen levels, which leads to low anandamide levels. Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that affects mood and appetite regulation, besides creating a feel-good vibe, in general.

This explains why it is commonly known as "the bliss molecule". Most new mothers operate with very low levels of anandamide, thanks to their hormonal imbalances. Cannabis can help rectify this imbalance, thanks to its tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. It happens to share almost the same chemical structure as that of anandamide and interacts with the same receptors throughout the body.

Further, cannabidiol (CBD), prevents the breakdown of the natural anandamide in our bodies. To put it in simpler terms, THC replaces the anandamide in the body, while CBD protects whatever little anandamide new mothers naturally have in their bodies.

A 2013 analysis of postpartum drug use and depressive symptoms revealed women suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) are more prone to substance abuse compared to women without PPD. Some researchers beg to differ and believe in no direct association between postpartum depression and drug use. Before one can draw any final conclusion, we need additional data to support such benefits. PPD users must also exert enough caution concerning the extensive use of cannabis.

The efficacy of cannabis as a way to treat any mental health condition entirely depends on the case concerned, since each case is different. If you are considering resorting to cannabis to combat postpartum depression, make sure you consult with your medical professional first. Find out all about its side effects and how it might impact you in other ways, while it helps you fight "baby blues".


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