Post-partum depression (PPD), more colloquially known as the “baby blues”, which is a relatively common condition that causes mood swings, crying spells, appetite loss, reduced concentration, feelings of being overwhelmed, irritability, anxiety and difficulty sleeping (insomnia) after childbirth. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.
In rare instances, post-partum psychosis may occur. Symptoms can be similar to bipolar disorder and can include confusion & disorientation, hallucinations & delusions, sleep disturbances, excessive energy & agitation, paranoia, obsessive thoughts about your baby, and in some cases even self-harm.
Although medical cannabis is not recommended for pregnant women, it could have its place when it comes to treating depression post-childbirth. Estrogen and progesterone levels, at the highest they will ever be during pregnancy, drop to pre-pregnancy levels less than 24 hours after giving birth. That hormonal plunge is thought to trigger postpartum depression. Anandamide levels also drop. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) may help regulate anandamide levels. Terpenes like limonene and pinene may help alleviate stress and boost mood to some extent. However, there is little definitive clinical evidence to suggest that cannabis can help with PPD.
One study suggests that “Postpartum marijuana use was associated with depressive symptoms and shorter breastfeeding duration. Surveillance of marijuana use among pregnant and postpartum women is critical to better understanding the relationship of marijuana use with birth outcomes, and postpartum experiences such as depression and breastfeeding.” However, what is not clear is whether the PPD started before the cannabis use (with cannabis being used as a medicine) or after the PPD. Cannabinoids may also reduce the need for antidepressants and sedatives. Although THC is not recommended for postnatal psychosis, CBD is being looked at as a potential treatment for psychosis.
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