Does Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Help Postpartum Depression?

Expecting a baby is a miraculous and exciting time. Whether you’ve been through it before or it’s your first, you have a picture in your head of how it will be. You will be so in love with your baby you can’t wait to spend your parental leave getting to know your little bundle of joy.

You’re home from the hospital in a flash, and reality overshadows your daydreaming. You are extremely sleep deprived, recovering from birth, adjusting to motherhood, and dealing with some intense hormonal changes. If you feel overwhelmed, you are not alone. All of this feeds into the baby blues, a common condition you can experience in the first few weeks after birth.

Your anxiety can be through the roof during this period. Take a breath, relax, and review the following information on baby blues, postpartum depression, and effective treatment options. This will help alleviate your worries, so you can return to cuddling your newborn and enjoying your role as a parent..

Is It Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression (PPD)?

According to the CDC, approximately one in eight women will experience PPD. Nearly every new mother will experience some form of baby blues. So how can you tell if you’re having normal postpartum feelings or if it’s more serious? Here are some of the differences:

  • Postpartum baby blues typically appear within the first few days of giving birth.
  • It includes frequent crying spells and mood swings.
  • You can feel anxious and have difficulty sleeping.
  • It resolves by itself within the first two weeks of delivery.

On the other hand, PPD can appear at any time within the first month to a year after birth. Symptoms can be similar to baby blues but more intense, including the following symptoms:

  • You can also struggle to concentrate or focus on tasks.
  • You may have trouble bonding with your baby.
  • You may have thoughts of harming your little one.
  • Your anxiety can turn into panic attacks.
  • You might start avoiding loved ones.
  • You can be plagued with sadness, excessive crying, and thoughts of suicide to escape.

Whether baby blues or PPD, your feelings and thoughts can cause extreme guilt, making you not want to tell anyone what’s happening. Remember, this is not your fault. PPD is due to dramatic hormone changes and is a serious health condition. If you experience any of the above symptoms, especially thoughts about harming your baby or yourself, speak to your provider.

Risk Factors for PPD

The risk of developing PPD can be concerning, especially if you’re in the thick of the baby blues period. However, several factors can help you identify your risk early on:

  • Lack of Postpartum Support: This includes raising your baby alone, living far away from family, not having parental leave, or lacking funds to pay for assistance with housework or childcare.
  • Concurrent Stressful Life Events: Dealing with a death in the family, a relationship ending, a move, or anything else raising your stress levels.
  • Complications During Pregnancy or Childbirth
  • History of Mood Disorders: This can be a family or personal history. PPD can also be a continuation of prenatal depression. Read more about prenatal depression here.

If you have any risk factors for PPD, let your partner, loved ones, and provider know. The more people know, the more everyone can look out for your well-being. Hopefully, this will result in faster treatment and stopping the progression in its tracks.

A New Era For PPD Treatment

Traditional treatments for PPD are talk therapy and medication. While many are safe, some medications have undesirable side effects and can pass to your baby if you’re nursing or pumping. This can be another barrier to quick depression treatment.

Now, you have another treatment option that doesn’t involve anything that could touch your baby. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive neuro treatment for depression that doesn’t require any sedation or medication. Numerous studies have shown it’s a safe and effective treatment option for PPD:

  1. Of the study participants that completed the eight weeks of TMS treatment, nearly 74% achieved remission.
  2. A 2020 study showed four weeks of TMS improved both symptoms of depression and anxiety in women with PPD. Results were evident six months post-treatment and didn’t cause any breastfeeding disruptions.
  3. One study randomly assigned women with PPD to receive actual treatment or a look alike to rule out the placebo effect. The women with the real TMS treatment showed significant improvement in their symptoms two weeks after treatment compared to their counterparts.

More and more studies are published daily to show how effectively and safely TMS treats PPD. It’s a promising alternative to traditional postpartum depression treatments. Consult your doctor to see if it’s suitable for you.

Remember that treatment is essential to recover from PPD; the sooner you have treatment, the quicker you can enjoy your new normal with your little one. You will feel better, more like yourself, and be able to foster a close bond with your baby.