Combatting Postpartum Depression

Below are alternative methods which have been studied for their efficacy and effectiveness in combatting postpartum depression.


A double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial was conducted on 60 new mothers diagnosed with PPD. After 8 weeks, results showed that the saffron group experienced a 96% remission rate for postpartum depression from just 15-mg Saffron per day, more than double the remission rate of placebo group ‘Researchers concluded that saffron can have a safe and significant mood-elevating impact for those suffering from postpartum depression who want to safely breast-feed their newborns’ (8)

When compared with antidepressant medications, saffron has been found to have similar efficacy – without the side effects.


In placebo-controlled trials, folate has been used as an adjunctive treatment to fluoxetine. Findings indicated significantly greater improvement in the folate group, a difference most pronounced in women (14)

94% of women who received fluoxetine, with the addition of folate 500 mcg per day, were treatment responders, compared with 61% of those who received fluoxetine and placebo

It is recommended that women of reproductive age consume 0.4–1 mg folate daily to reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects.


Exercise is integral to optimal health in pregnancy, as well as in the prevention of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, along with other comorbid diseases. Regular physical activity (after selectively auditing through 216 studies) during pregnancy, pregnancy, and puerperium, or in the postnatal period itself as compared to inactivity, was found to reduce the risk of developing depression in pregnant women and after the birth of a child (6)


A meta-analysis of 17 RCTs of massage therapy in depressed people concluded that massage therapy is significantly associated with reduced depressive symptoms (11), decreased urinary levels of cortisol (12); and increased urinary levels of serotonin and dopamine (13)

The purpose of this post is to raise awareness and display the vast array of possible paths one could take in supporting their own mental well-being when combatting PPD.

Infant Massages:

Infant massage improves mother-infant interaction for mothers with postnatal depression (7)


In a large Danish prospective cohort study of more than 54,000 women, participants who were in the lowest quartile of self-reported fish intake during pregnancy were at increased risk of being treated for depression with an antidepressant up to 1-year postnatally (9). Rather than extrapolating this solely to benefits Omega-3, it is important to take into account that sociodemographic characteristics not only influence food availability in house-hold diets but also emotional statue

Bright Light Therapy:

In participants who received at least three weeks of bright light therapy each morning for 1-hr had improvements in their depression scores by a mean of 49%; among participants who completed at least 5 weeks, scores improved by 59% (10)

Caveats in this field of research are that the study pools are low most likely due to the ‘cost vs return’ of investing into studies in this sector


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  13. Field T, Diego MA, Hernandez-Reif M, et al. Massage therapy effects on depressed pregnant women. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 2004;25:115–22.
  14. Coppen A, Bailey J. Enhancement of the antidepressant action of fluoxetine by folic acid: a randomised, placebo controlled trial. J Affect Disord 2000;60:121-30.
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  16. Roder C, Schaefer M, Leucht S. Meta analysis of effectiveness and tolerability of treatment of mild to moderate depression with St. John’s Wort [in German]. Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr 2004;72:330–43.