Home Remedies for Postpartum Depression

Natural remedies for postpartum depression include:

  • St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum): This herb has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat feelings of sadness, nervousness and insomnia. Many clinical studies have been conducted which show the effectiveness of this herb in treating mild to moderate cases of depression, with fewer of the side effects normally associated with antidepressants. However, studies have not proved the efficacy of St. John’s Wort in treating cases of severe depression.

The herb can take up to six weeks before its effect can be felt. Side effects include dry mouth and throat, indigestion, dizziness and fatigue. It causes and increased sensitivity towards light (photosensitivity), so care must be taken to protect the skin and the eyes from direct sunlight.

St. John's Wort may adversely interact with antidepressants, HIV medications, oral contraceptives and drugs used to prevent organ rejection like immune-suppressants. It is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, people with bipolar disorder or liver or kidney disease.

It is available at drug and health food stores in the form of capsules, tablets or liquid extracts.

  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids: This is a good type of fat that helps normalize brain function. It must be obtained through the diet and is commonly found in cold water fish like salmon, sardines and anchovies. Studies show that omega 3 fatty acids help increase the effectiveness of antidepressants. Fish oil capsules are also available, but care should be taken to refrigerate them to prevent them from going rancid. Fish oil capsules may interact with blood thinning drugs like aspirin and warfarin and other side effects may include indigestion and bleeding.
  • S-adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAM-e): This is a chemical that naturally occurs in the human body and increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. It is available as an over the counter supplement at health food and drug stores. Side effects can include nausea and constipation.
  • Folic Acid: Low levels of folic acid are associated with depression. Researchers have found that people with low levels of folic acid do not respond as well to antidepressants. Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables, fruits, beans and fortified grains. It is also available as a supplement and forms a part of most multi-vitamin supplements.
  • Diet and Lifestyle: Avoid sweets, caffeine and alcohol. They can aggravate mood swings.
  • Vitamin B6: This vitamin is required for the production of mood enhancing neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. People who take oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy and tuberculosis drugs may have low levels of this vitamin.
  • Magnesium: This mineral is also needed to produce serotonin. Legumes, nuts, whole grains and green vegetables are good sources of magnesium.

Frequently asked questions
  1. Laura J. Miller, Elizabeth M. LaRusso, Preventing Postpartum Depression, Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Volume 34, Issue 1, March 2011, Pages 53-65, ISSN 0193-953X, 10.1016/j.psc.2010.11.010.
  2. Christina Munoz, Janyce Agruss, Amy Haeger, Lynn Sivertsen, Postpartum Depression: Detection and Treatment in the Primary Care Setting, The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, Volume 2, Issue 4, April 2006, Pages 247-253, ISSN 1555-4155, 10.1016/j.nurpra.2006.02.008.