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Traditional Chinese Acupuncture And Postpartum Depression: A Systematic Review

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What is Traditional Chinese Acupuncture?

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (TCA) is an alternative medicine treatment that originated in China several thousand years ago. It involves inserting thin needles into your skin at specific points on the body. The needles’ insertion, rotation, and manipulation are intended to stimulate the body’s natural healing response and relieve pain.

What is Postpartum Depression (PPD)?

Postpartum depression is a common complication of pregnancy that markedly reduces the quality of life for mothers and their families. PPD can be a challenging experience for new mothers as they are adjusting to life with a newborn baby, and it can last from several weeks to several months or more. Symptoms can include sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. PPD affects one in every seven women after childbirth.

Our team of Acupuncture fertility specialists knows it isn’t something you get over alone, especially for patients with moderate to severe symptoms. So, it’s essential to see your doctor for help as soon as possible if you notice any symptoms or signs of postpartum depression after pregnancy.

The Traditional Chinese Acupuncture Point of View on Postpartum Depression

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture purports that everything in the body affected by Qi — energy or life force—which flows through your body along pathways called meridians.

It is thought that when something goes wrong with your Qi flow or if these channels are blocked or unbalanced, illness or pain in your body can occur. Acupuncture fertility specialists treat imbalances in Qi flow by inserting tiny needles into specific points along your meridians.

TCM views postpartum depression as Qi stagnation in your uterus due to hormonal changes after giving birth. When you are pregnant, your uterus expands to accommodate your growing baby. After giving birth, this organ needs time to return to its average size and shape before performing its regular functions again.

Acupuncture fertility specialists believe emotions affect the body’s balance of Qi flow, just like physical injuries do. If you are depressed or anxious, this may change how you breathe and move your muscles, thus affecting energy flow through your body.

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture uses different techniques including massage, cupping, and moxibustion therapy to stimulate your nervous system and increase blood flow to specific areas and even points on your body. These points are called acupoints, each corresponding to a particular organ or body part. Needles inserted into these points may significantly help with pain or discomfort and other symptoms associated with PPD like fatigue, anxiety, and insomnia.

Therapeutic Effects of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture on Postpartum Depression

Acupuncture Down-regulates Inflammatory Cytokines

The inflammatory cytokines are a group of proteins that have essential roles in the immune system and play a part in neuropsychiatric disorders. There is increasing evidence that postpartum depression is associated with increased levels of inflammatory cytokines.

According to fertility specialists, various acupuncture therapies, combined with other treatments, are helpful to down-regulate these inflammation-inducing proteins. As a result, acupuncture may help alleviate symptoms of postpartum depression.

Acupuncture Up-regulates Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send signals between neurons or brain cells. There are different types of neurotransmitters, but most are involved in mood regulation and cognitive function — two things that PPD can impair.

Acupuncture fertility specialists believe that TCA can increase serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels — all neurotransmitters that play an essential role in mood regulation and cognitive function.

Acupuncture Reduces Oxidative Stress

Excessive free radicals in the body cause oxidative stress. Free radicals can attack and damage healthy cells and tissues, causing premature aging, chronic illness, and even death. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, help your body produce more antioxidants, and reduce inflammation.

Acupuncture Regulates Hormone Levels

Acupuncture fertility specialists can’t emphasize the importance of TCM and TCA enough to help regulate hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which are often out of balance after giving birth. This can significantly affect mood swings and feelings of anxiety or depression during this period.

Acupuncture Inhibits the Stress Response

Acupuncture has been shown to inhibit the stress response system in the brain when treating chronic conditions like depression.

Does Acupuncture Help with Postpartum Depression?

Although there are various theories about the cause of postpartum depression, no scientific evidence has yet supported any one theory. Some acupuncture fertility specialists believe that hormone levels may play a role in causing postpartum depression because they fluctuate so much during pregnancy and after giving birth.

Research reported by the Journal of the Chinese Medical Association suggests that acupuncture may be helpful as an integrative adjunct to conventional postpartum depression treatment. This study aimed to review randomized controlled trials and assess acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating postpartum depression.

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture and Postpartum Depression Study: Methods, Results, And Conclusion:

In a randomized controlled trial, 887 women diagnosed with PPD were treated with acupuncture for between 4 and 12 weeks.

The PPD patients were divided into two groups, with 443 in the treatment group and 444 in the control group, in a trial based on 24 characteristics of depressive symptoms. The PPD patients in the treatment group were treated with a greater variety of acupuncture protocols, including manual acupuncture, needle manipulation, electro-acupuncture, and moxibustion, accompanied by additional methods and therapies. The control group was given a placebo and various Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapies, including psychological intervention and herbs, but not acupuncture.

The Hamilton Depression Scale (HAMD), Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS), and GRADE profiler were used for the screening and meta-analyses. Compared with the control group, PPD patients who underwent acupuncture therapy showed significant improvements and performed better in various parameters. In conclusion, the efficacy of acupuncture as adjuvant therapy in combination with antidepressants and other treatments for moderate PPD was established.

Whether you are suffering from postpartum depression or struggling to conceive and looking for a qualified acupuncture fertility specialist in Sacramento, Monarch Acupuncture has your back. For a consultation and to book your appointment, call (925) 268-8830.