TMS Therapy for Postpartum Depression

Most would assume that after giving birth, a new mother would experience pure joy and be full of smiles. Sadly, as many as 19% of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression. Recognizing the difference between ‘baby blues and postpartum depression is crucial. Understanding that ‘baby blues’ can lead to postpartum depression is equally important. There are limited treatment options for postpartum depression, especially for breastfeeding mothers. However, TMS therapy for postpartum depression can help.

TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation

TMS is the most advanced form of depression treatment that can be safer and more effective than medications. The treatment is FDA-approved for major depressive disorder and is a brief outpatient treatment that takes place in the physician’s office. Unlike medications, TMS does not cause any systemic side effects and the majority of patients treated can enjoy complete, long-term remission.

Identifying Postpartum Depression

Undoubtedly, parenthood brings about many lifestyle changes, including disruption of sleep, greater responsibility, and financial challenges. Giving birth can also trigger a surge of fluctuating emotions, ranging from joy and love to fear and worry. While many new moms experience “baby blues”, which typically occur within the first couple of days after delivery and last for up to two weeks, others experience a more severe, long-lasting depression, called postpartum depression. 1 in 8 women experiences postpartum depression in the United States.

It’s important to know that postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw, shortcoming, or weakness. It is often a complication of giving birth. The key to identifying postpartum depression involves recognizing the symptoms and their severity. Signs and symptoms of depression after childbirth vary and can range from mild to severe.

Symptoms of “baby blues”

  • Anxiety
  • Moodiness or mood swings
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Crying spells
  • Reduced concentration
  • Appetite problems
  • Trouble sleeping

Symptoms of postpartum depression are often mistaken for “baby blues”. However, the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are much more intense and last longer.

Additionally, symptoms often interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, but may begin earlier ― during pregnancy ― or later — up to a year after birth.

Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression are much more intense and last longer.

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Appetite changes
  • Sleeping challenges (difficulty falling and/or staying asleep)
  • Severe fatigue or loss of energy
  • Little to no interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Restlessness
  • Severe anxiety or panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

When left untreated, postpartum depression can last several months to over a year

Postpartum depression is not just reserved for new moms, as this debilitating condition can occur in new fathers too. New fathers may experience the same symptoms as new mothers. Those who are younger with a history of depression, and who experience relationship problems or maybe struggling financially are at a greater risk for developing postpartum depression (also known as paternal postpartum depression).

TMS Therapy for Postpartum Depression

So what is TMS therapy and why is it a good treatment option for postpartum depression?

Antidepressants can take several weeks to begin working. A precious newborn seems to grow so fast. New parents need and desire to cherish those initial bonding moments that are so critical in the life of a child. Further, many mothers opt to breastfeed, which further limits the traditional treatment with medications.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

While the term TMS may seem intimidating, is really a simple, non-invasive, pain-free therapy that can be completed in just a few minutes a day in the physician’s office. Moreover, there is no downtime, no systemic side effects, and most patients experience benefits within the first couple of weeks. With repeated treatment over a period of a few weeks, symptoms continue to improve, with the majority of patients achieving complete remission by the time an antidepressant begins to work.

TMS treats depression at the source. During a brief in-office treatment, you can expect to relax in a reclining chair during treatment. TMS uses a magnetic field to stimulate specific under-active nerve cells in the brain. This is done by placing a small magnetic coil on the scalp. This electromagnetic coil will deliver a series of magnetic pulses which stimulate the nerve cells to restore and balance neurochemicals in the brain.

To find a TMS provider or TMS therapy clinic near you, use the search tool on the home page of TMS Directory.