Postpartum depression isn’t an uncommon problem: according to the American Phycological Association, it affects one in seven women. It’s different from the baby blues – the feeling of stress, anxiety, and loneliness that’s sometimes brought on by the realization that you may never sleep again. It’s also different from postpartum psychosis, a rare condition characterized by hallucinations and delusions.
Per the Baby Center, postpartum depression doesn’t always begin after pregnancy; approximately 50 percent of women start having symptoms while still pregnant. Others may feel effects immediately after delivery while others may not experience symptoms for several weeks.
The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
The symptoms of postpartum depression are varied and include extreme sadness or emptiness, crying often, trouble with sleep (either an inability to fall asleep or sleeping too much), loss of interest in hobbies or activities, feelings of worthlessness, changes in weight (as the result of eating too much or too little), growing increasingly irritable or angry, feeling suicidal or as though life isn’t worth living, avoiding friends and family, excessively worrying about your child, finding yourself unable to care for your child, and feelings of exhaustion.
Many of these symptoms are common in all women in the months following birth – new mothers worry about their babies and find themselves on edge because sleepless nights take a toll. But, with postpartum depression, the symptoms aren’t fleeting or minimal – they last nearly every day all day long for at least two consecutive weeks.
Women with postpartum are a direct risk to themselves due to thoughts of suicide
However, postpartum psychosis – the rare condition mentioned above – puts a child directly in harm’s way. A woman suffering from psychosis may harm their child because of delusions or voices instructing them to do so.
The Causes of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is the result of a perfect storm that goes on inside the body. It usually results from a faulty combination of hormones, genetic factors, and stressors in the environment. Mothers aren’t afflicted because of something they did or didn’t do.
Some women are more prone to postpartum depression than others
Those who have a history of clinical depression or anxiety disorders are at an increased risk. So are women who have a difficult time emotionally adjusting to parenthood, suffer from sleep deprivation, and experience a particularly exhausting or traumatic childbirth. If the child requires extra care (they must be hospitalized in the neonatal unit) or they have difficulty breastfeeding, the risk also increases. Finally, support and help play a huge role. A mother on her own with little assistance is more likely to suffer than someone with a solid social circle.
The Difference between Postpartum Depression and Clinical Depression
Postpartum depression and clinical depression involve similar symptoms, but the obvious difference is one occurs in conjunction with childbirth (or pregnancy) and the other doesn’t. Hormones change rapidly and drastically during pregnancy (as well as after it). Doctors believe that sets the stage to trigger postpartum depression in women who are sensitive to estrogen or progesterone.
Postpartum Depression Treatments
The treatment of postpartum depression is the same as the treatment for clinical depression – talk therapy, psychotherapy, and group sessions might work.
Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed as well as they help regulate the mood by balancing the chemicals in the brain
Of course, cannabis can be beneficial too. According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, THC helps ease the symptoms of depression, but there is a line – THC in low doses helps; THC in higher doses may make depression worse.
Not all studies have found the latter to be true; some research has found that marijuana, no matter the dosage, will not compound depressive symptoms. It’s likely that the outcome is individual-based and dependent on several factors.
CBD, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, is an alternative to THC (or can be used in conjunction with THC). CBD is often used not only for depression but anxiety. It tends to work differently in the body than THC – where THC replaces the endocannabinoids the body naturally makes, CBD blocks the breakdown of anandamide and 2-AG and maximizes the body’s innate cannabinoids – this helps ease negative feelings.
Cannabis Strains for Postpartum
Women who are breastfeeding face specific obstacles when taking any kind of drug because medications pass through breastmilk. But for women who aren’t breastfeeding or those who’ve discussed treatment with their doctors, the following strains may be helpful:
Sugar Klingon: This strain is moderate in THC at 17 percent. It offers a cerebral high that reduces sluggishness and elevates mood. It’s good for people who want a lift without couch-lock.
Hashberry: Hashberry is indica-dominant but it does possess sativa-like effects. When you take small doses, it’s calming and focusing before relaxation sets in. Too much of it can cause sleepiness or make you fidget.
NYC Diesel: This strain is energizing and powerful. It good for inducing euphoria and creativity. It’s numbing for the body, which might leave you too tired, and infamous for the munchies.
Order in, you’ll be too relaxed to cook
Beyond the Brain: Beyond the Brain was designed to minimize paranoia while maximizing creativity and it seems to have succeeded. It offers a clear-headed high and helps people feel creative and social. It also boosts energy, making it an apt choice for anyone feeling fatigued.
Snow White: The Snow White strain won’t leave you Dopey, just Happy. It offers a mellow high with feelings of joy, creativity, friendliness, and elation. It only lasts for about two hours, which is beneficial for anyone on a time crunch. Try it and see if it offers a happily ever after.
Strains high in CBD – such as Charlotte’s Web – may be helpful for some people, especially those who want the benefits of pot without any mental effects.
Like many conditions, using cannabis to treat postpartum depression may involve trial and error. Experiment with different strains to discover what works best for you.