There’s no question that having a child is one of life’s most exciting and also most stressful events. Long before you actually welcome your child into the world, your life begins changing in dramatic ways. For millions of parents around the world and right here in our communities in West Virginia and western Pennsylvania, postpartum or perinatal depression can take much of the magic out of pregnancy and new parenthood.
Luckily, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) offers a drug-free, non-invasive treatment that can help new parents reclaim those special moments. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about postpartum depression and TMS therapy, including:
- How to identify postpartum or perinatal depression in yourself or a loved one
- What TMS is, how it works, and why it’s getting so much attention
- Support for TMS therapy as an effective postpartum depression treatment
Postpartum and Perinatal Depression are More Common Than You Might Think
In recent years, Facebook has become less of a cool teen hangout and more of a place to share life’s big moments with family and friends. Scrolling through your feed, you’re sure to catch snapshots of plenty of milestones-- engagements, graduations, and of course, all of those milestones associated with pregnancy and parenthood.
Judging by the sweet gender reveals and videos of baby’s first steps posted on social media, it might seem like most new parents are completely free of any depression symptoms, but that’s not quite true. If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of postpartum or perinatal depression, it is important to remember that you are not alone. Postpartum and perinatal depression are much more common than they might appear to be.
In this section, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about postpartum and perinatal depression:
- What are postpartum and perinatal depression?
- Who does postpartum and perinatal depression affect?
- How can we identify postpartum and perinatal depression to help new moms and dads?
Postpartum vs. Perinatal: Understanding the Difference
Postpartum depression refers to symptoms that begin in the days or weeks following delivery. By comparison, perinatal depression encompasses depression during pregnancy and continuing into the postpartum period. Due to their similarity, the terms are often used interchangeably in literature about the conditions.
Postpartum and Perinatal Depression are Common in Both Women and Men
Postpartum and perinatal depression are extremely common. A study by the World Health Organization estimates that 10-15% of women-- or approximately 1 in 7 new mothers-- suffer from postpartum depression.
While postpartum depression is more common in women, the condition can also affect men. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 10 new fathers experience depressive symptoms during or after their partner’s pregnancy.
Identifying Postpartum and Perinatal Depression
Pregnancy and parenthood undoubtedly present plenty of changes which can cause parents-to-be stress and even depression-like symptoms. So how can you tell if someone is suffering from postpartum or perinatal depression?
The key to identifying postpartum or perinatal depression-- much like identifying many other depressive disorders-- is in the duration and severity of the symptoms. When experienced continuously or almost continuously for 2 or more weeks, the presence of any of the following symptoms can indicate that a new mom or dad isn’t simply feeling normal stress.
You or a loved one may be experiencing postpartum or perinatal depression if you experience:
- Restlessness or moodiness
- Consistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- A persistent feeling of being overwhelmed
- Frequent crying
- Thoughts of hurting your child/children
- Thoughts of hurting yourself
- Lack of interest in/ connection with your child/children
- Loss of energy or motivation
- Significant changes in diet (eating far too little or far too much)
- Significant changes in sleep habits (sleeping far too little or far too much)
- Trouble focusing or making decisions
- Problems with memory
- Feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy
- Loss of interest in pastimes you once enjoyed
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Persistent headaches, aches and pains, or stomach upset
Keep in mind that, much like other depressive disorders such as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), these symptoms may present a little differently in men than women. While men can and often do experience these symptoms, they are more prone to experiencing additional symptoms. Other indicators of male postpartum or perinatal depression include:
- Anger or irritability
- Increased aggression
- Feeling “on edge”
- Problems with sexual desire or performance
- Feeling empty or “flat”
Please note that if you or someone you know is experiencing any number of these symptoms, you should talk to a mental healthcare provider right away. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger or experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 for immediate assistance.
TMS Therapy Provides a Drug-Free, Non-Invasive Depression Treatment for New Parents
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy may sound intimidating, but in reality, it’s an extremely simple and painless procedure that has improved millions of lives since it was first used as a depression treatment in the 1980s.
In this section, you’ll get a crash course on TMS therapy, including:
- How TMS therapy works
- What TMS therapy is really like
- Why TMS therapy has been getting so much attention recently
TMS Therapy Stimulates Parts of the Brain that are Underactive in People Struggling with Depression
So how does TMS therapy actually work? A machine is used to generate a magnetic field, much like the magnetic field generated by a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine. The electromagnetic fields are pulsed through a special coil that is placed against the patient’s scalp. These pulsing magnetic fields stimulate regions in the brain that may be underactive in people with depression, reactivating them and effectively providing depression relief.
Receiving TMS Therapy Feels Like Someone Gently Tapping on Your Head
The actual experience of receiving TMS therapy may look a little bit different depending on where you receive treatment. TMS coils come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Treatment can be administered with a hood or helmet-like device, or your technician may hold a wand to your scalp to administer waves.
The magnetic pulses you experience during TMS therapy feel like someone tapping on your head. Treatment can evoke emotional reactions, but it is not typically physically painful.
TMS Therapy Has Fewer Side-Effects and Helps More People than Traditional Depression Treatment
Traditional depression treatments-- such as antidepressant medication-- can be extremely effective for many people, but what if it isn’t working for you? Evidence suggests that TMS therapy is an effective treatment for people suffering from severe depression symptoms, even if they haven’t responded to other forms of depression treatment in the past.
Another reason why TMS therapy has garnered a lot of attention recently is that it is not associated with may of the adverse side effects that antidepressant medications are. While antidepressants can inadvertently cause everything from weight gain to nausea to sexual dysfunction, the only reported side effects of TMS therapy are comparatively mild-- head or neck pain and scalp discomfort.
So, is TMS therapy the new secret weapon for banishing postpartum and perinatal depression?
The short answer: yes, it seems really promising.
Studies have shown that TMS therapy can provide postpartum depression relief in as little as 2 weeks of treatment. In addition to these promising clinical results, there are plenty of reasons that TMS therapy just makes sense for new parents:
- Treatment sessions are short (~30 minutes) and convenient
- TransforMationS’ lifestyle membership plans make TMS treatment discreet and affordable
- TMS therapy is non-drug, which means there is no chance it could negatively affect breastfeeding children
Having a child is one of life’s most beautiful experiences-- don’t let postpartum or perinatal depression rob you of those special moments and negatively affect your growing family. Talk to one of TransforMationS’ trained specialists today to find out of TMS therapy is right for you.