TMS and Peripartum Mental Health

Of all medical complications affecting women during pregnancy and after birth, the most common are perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. In California, one in five women suffer from depression, anxiety or both while pregnant and/or after giving birth. While “postpartum” depression is commonly known for occurring after birth, fifty percent of postpartum major depressive episodes actually begin prior to delivery with peripartum mental health.

Substantial evidence suggests that mood and anxiety symptoms during pregnancy, as well as “baby blues,” increase the risk of postpartum major depressive episodes. Thus, these episodes are referred to collectively as peripartum episodes.  Peripartum depression symptoms can be very similar to those of conventional depression. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Negative feelings towards the baby
  • Lack of concern for yourself or the baby
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

If left untreated, peripartum mental health disorders can be damaging to both the mother and the child’s long term physical and mental health. Maternal mood and anxiety symptoms around the time of birth have been associated with increased risk of harmful maternal health behaviors including smoking, substance use, poor nutrition and avoidance of obstetric care. Additionally, untreated peripartum mental disorders have also been associated with adverse health outcomes including preeclampsia, preterm delivery, low birth weight and hypertension.

Treating depression during and after pregnancy can be tricky; mothers have been hesitant about taking antidepressants out of concerns on how it will affect the baby. This complicates treatment decisions for both pregnant and nursing women which consequently leads to detrimental treatment avoidance.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation increasingly becoming a preferred method of treatment for depression during and after pregnancy because it is a non-drug, non-invasive therapy that will not produce side effects for the mother or the baby. A TMS treatment session involves the gentle placement of a small magnetic arm against the patient’s head. The treatment is completely non-invasive; patients remain awake and alert throughout the entire treatment. Patients are able to drive themselves to work or home immediately following the treatment session.

A study published by the Washington University School of Medicine chronicled 9 antidepressant-free women suffering from postpartum depression, 8 out of them achieved remission of symptoms after 4 weeks of repetitive TMS Therapy. Additionally, results showed a significant increase in mother-baby bonding. This demonstrated promising results for the use of TMS therapy in various types of depression.

Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are the most common disorders among pregnant women and new mothers. It is important to identify and treat these symptoms early. The growing availability of TMS along with increased patient and provider education about TMS may ultimately give women access to more flexible and accommodating treatment plans for peripartum depression.

As a leading provider of TMS, Neuro Wellness Spa is devoted to helping those who are struggling with mental health disorders. If you or a loved one would like to learn more about TMS therapy, contact our expert clinical team today.

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