While having a baby is expected to be a happy time, most women experience a short period of sadness after delivery called postpartum blues. Sometimes a precursor to postpartum depression, postpartum blues usually peak on the fifth day postpartum, coinciding with a temporary rise in monoamine oxidase A, an enzyme that breaks down mood-related neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and serotonin. According to a study published in PNAS, an amino acid supplement with blueberry extract may be able to help compensate for this rise in neurotransmitter breakdown, reducing the risk of postpartum blues. For the study, researchers divided 41 new mothers into two groups: the first group received a supplement containing 2 grams of tryptophan, 10 grams of tyrosine, and blueberry juice with blueberry extract on postpartum days three, four, and five; the second group didn’t receive the supplement. Following treatment, researchers evaluated the women for depression. They found that the women taking the supplement reported no change in their moods, while the women not taking the supplement reported a significant increase in depressed mood symptoms.
These results suggest that there may be a natural way to mitigate postpartum blues using supplements that support healthy neurotransmitter balance: while blueberry extract reduces oxidative stress that can damage the nervous system, tryptophan is the amino acid used in the body to make serotonin, and tyrosine is the amino acid used to make dopamine and epinephrine. These preliminary findings are promising, but more studies are needed to confirm the benefits and safety of this nutrient combination and to determine whether it can help to prevent postpartum depression, the most common health complication after childbirth.