If you want to use something other than conventional pharmaceutical treatments for your depression while you’re trying to get pregnant, you have more options besides Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture.
In spite of studies being limited by challenges to control (such as with exercise and acupuncture) and by difficulties funding large-scale placebo-controlled trials, reproductive psychiatrist Dr. Kelly Brogan says there are several Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) interventions with a significant evidence base.
Dr. Brogan routinely emphasizes the role of diet and nutrition.
“I discuss anti-inflammatory diets with patients that minimize potential food allergens such as gluten and dairy, and maximize nutrient dense, organic foods.” On a related environmental note, she also strives to cultivate patient awareness of their exposures to environmental toxins such as preservatives, plasticizers, metals, and mold.
She adds, “It is also important to investigate thyroid and vitamin D status to rule out other medical contributors to mood or anxiety symptoms.”
Alex Shpigel, L.Ac. of New York, agrees that food plays a role in depression. He describes how this connection might work. “If a woman keeps eating foods that she is allergic or sensitive too, the body goes into a state of inflammation, which causes more stress on her body. This takes vital energy away from essential organ function, which can lead to many problems including hormonal imbalance, fatigue, mood swings and depression.
While you should talk with a qualified health care practitioner about specific types of changes for your own diet, some commonly recommended supplements include omega-3 fatty acids, SAM-e (S-adenosyl methionine), and folic acid (including an activated form of folate called l-methylfolate.)
New York acupuncturist Juliette Aiyana, L.Ac. stresses, “Patients using certain supplements at therapeutic levels should be prepared to have regular blood testing to monitor levels for both safety and efficacy.”
Connecting the brain, relaxation, and well-being
As neuroscience research continues to put the pieces of brain health and emotional well-being together, a number of treatment modalities are being used more often by specialists.
A starting point for many practitioners is to emphasize to patients the important connection between body and mind. Studies continue to reflect that certain moderate activities are good for both your mood and your fertility levels. Many practitioners also point to research supporting the use of meditation, primarily for stress reduction.
In addition to the crucial aspect of appropriate and helpful daily physical activity, Dr. Brogan recommends light therapy and cranial electrical stimulation.
Often thought of in relation to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), light therapy has also been substantiated for use in non-seasonal depression, Dr. Brogan says. She describes a typical treatment as 30-60 minutes daily with a 10,000 lux light source. A cautionary note: light therapy is not appropriate for patients with a personal or family history of Bipolar disorder.
Cranial electrical stimulation works by modifying electrical activity in the brain to support neurotransmitter production and alpha wave activity. Dr. Brogan says there are currently no studies on use of this therapy specifically in women who are trying to conceive or pregnant, but randomized placebo-controlled trials (approximately 20 adequate quality trials) have supported its use for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
Talking it out
Most health practitioners from all realms agree that “talk therapy” is still a mainstay of treatment for depression, no matter where you are along the fertility path. Whether they engage in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other forms of psychotherapy, women who are trying to get pregnant and confronting their depression now have a wider array of highly qualified specialists to address their needs.
Donnielle James, L.Ac., a California acupuncturist, says whether a woman is actively pursuing pregnancy or simply preparing their health to be ready when the time for conception is right, “providing a safe place for the patient to openly express their concerns and feelings is essential to acceptance, healing, and finding what works best for them.” She says this might seem obvious, but many women are unprepared for the deeper conflicts that can be exposed in the getting-pregnant process.
There are sometimes a lot of emotions and lifestyle factors that can be contributing to the situation, by creating blocks or stagnation to the goal. Through discussion, a woman may realize the need to re-think ‘Am I really ready?’ for the pregnancy she seeks.
Psychiatrist Brogan stresses that regardless of treatment preference, it is essential that women consult with professional providers. “In the realm of reproductive psychiatry, the individualization of treatment is paramount, and integrative approaches are often the best way to achieve this goal.”
About Tracy Morris
I wear a lot of hats while spinning plates and true stories. In between taking care of myself and my family, I write about fertility and other health care topics. Most of my online time lately is spent at two very different places: FertilityTies.com and TrailerParkKarma.com. Perspective is everything -- my pre-teen reminds me daily.Web | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | More Posts (29)
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