According to an article published last week in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, postpartum depression may be caused by low levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
For the 70-80% of all new mothers who experience some negative feelings or mood swings after the birth of their child could the answer lie with legumes?
Women are at the highest risk of depression during their childbearing years, and the birth of a child may trigger a depressive episode in vulnerable women. Postpartum depression is associated with diminished maternal health as well as developmental and health problems for her child.
Symptoms of “baby blues” include:
- Weepiness or crying for no apparent reason
- Mood changes
- Poor concentration
Gabriel Shapiro of the University of Montreal and the Research Centre at the Sainte-Justine Mother and Child Hospital says “The literature shows that there could be a link between pregnancy, omega-3 and the chemical reaction that enables serotonin, a mood regulator, to be released into our brains.”
Because omega-3 is transferred from the mother to her fetus and later to her breastfeeding infant, maternal omega-3 levels decrease during pregnancy, and remain lowered for at least six-weeks following the birth.
Furthermore, in addition to the specific circumstances of pregnant women, it has been found that most people in the US do not consume sufficient amounts of omega-3. “These findings suggest that new screening strategies and prevention practices may be useful,” said Shapiro.
And while there are plenty of commercial omega-3 supplements, don’t forget that these clever little fatty acids are also present in seafood, (especially salmon, anchovies, tuna and sardines) as well as in oils, beans, nuts and seeds, winter squash, broccoli and my personal favorite – cauliflower.
Although Shapiro’s study was preliminary and the further research is needed to clarify the link, new moms could do worse than use salmon to stave off sadness or anchovies as the answer to anxiety!