A trio of supplements may eliminate baby blues in postpartum women. That’s the upshot of a small new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and led by Jeffrey Meyer, MD, PhD, head of the Neuroimaging Program in Mood & Anxiety in the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute in Toronto.
Specifically, researchers found that giving a nutrition kit with tryptophan, tyrosine, and blueberry extract helped counteract a surge in the brain protein MAO-A, which occurs in early postpartum and resembles a similar brain change for those who suffer clinical depression.
According to a study release, “MAO-A breaks down three brain chemicals that help maintain mood: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. When these chemicals are depleted, it can lead to feelings of sadness. MAO-A levels peak five days after giving birth, the same time when postpartum blues are most pronounced.”
Tryptophan and tyrosine help compensate for the loss of the three mood-regulating chemicals, and blueberry extract was added to boost antioxidants.
The study was administered to 41 new mothers — 21 who received the supplements, and 20 who did not. The mothers knew they were taking nutritional supplements.
Researchers found that women who did not take the supplements had significantly increased depression scores, while those who did take the supplements did not experience a depressed mood.
“We believe this is the first study to show such a strong, beneficial effect of an intervention in reducing the baby blues at a time when postpartum sadness peaks,” says Meyer. “Postpartum blues are common and usually resolves 10 days after giving birth, but when they are intense, the risk of postpartum depression increases four-fold.”
Dr. Meyer’s team also confirmed that larger doses of these supplements don’t affect overall concentrations in breast milk.