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Research Uncovers Natural Solution for Postpartum Blues

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Postpartum blues, also known as “baby blues,” is characterized by mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. It affects up to 8 out of every 10 new mothers and may last for up to two weeks after delivery. In severe cases, it can become a precursor to the more serious condition, postpartum depression, which affects up to 13 percent of new mothers. Postpartum depression can seriously affect quality of life, increasing risk of future depressive episodes and suicide attempts and also causing negative cognitive and emotional effects in children.

Until now, there have been no good options for widespread prevention of either condition. But that may be changing thanks to a dietary supplement developed by scientists at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital. The results of their latest study were published in the journal eClinicalMedicine, part of The Lancet Discovery Science, in April.


The Study

The supplement regimen in question was developed to address specific factors that have been implicated in postpartum blues, primarily blueberry juice and blueberry antioxidants to counter increased production of hydrogen peroxide, with l-tryptophan and l-tyrosine included to replace depleted hormones. The combination was previously tested in an open trial before the COVID-19 pandemic, where it was associated with resistance to depressed mood.

For the current study, researchers recruited more than 100 expectant mothers who lived within a three-hour drive of Toronto between January 2019 and December 2022. The participants’ mental health was first assessed during their third trimester of pregnancy, using a structured clinical interview for DSM disorders (SCID), the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, structured questionnaires regarding health and past substance use, and a urine drug screen. The tests were repeated about two weeks before each participant’s due date.

Participants were then divided into two groups. The first group received four postpartum doses of the supplement: one dose on the night of day 3 after giving birth, one dose each the morning and night of day 4, and a final dose on the morning of day 5. The second group received identically timed doses of placebo. After again evaluating the participants’ mental health, the researchers found that 66 percent of the women in the supplement group experienced either no symptoms or only negligible symptoms of postpartum blues. And after a six-month follow-up evaluation, not only had the supplement group experienced fewer symptoms of depression overall, but none of them had reached the clinical threshold of postpartum depression.



While the researchers acknowledged some limitations to the study, including the sample size and the fact that the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic may have influenced some of the data, the results are encouraging, nonetheless.

“Our study showed that both postpartum blues and later symptoms of depression were lower in women who received the dietary supplement,” said Jeffrey Meyer, MD, PhD, the study’s senior author, who has been studying postpartum blues for more than 15 years. “Providing this specialized dietary support in the first few days after giving birth is a crucial window to avoid depressive symptoms which is tremendously important given there is considerable risk that they may recur and have lifelong impact.”

CAMH is partnering with international women’s health supplement and pharmaceutical manufacturer Exeltis to bring the supplement to market.


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