Could new mothers fight off the baby blues by taking a trio of supplements? Researchers at Canada's Center for Addiction and Mental Health are reporting in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that their small new study suggests so, and they say there's something novel about that. "Developing successful nutrition-based treatments, based on neurobiology, is rare in psychiatry," says Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, whose team endeavored to do exactly that. Their focus: the brain protein MAO-A, which breaks down and therefore drains the body of three mood-regulating chemicals, serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. After giving birth, a woman's MAO-A surges, peaking five days postpartum. So researchers designed a "dietary supplement" kit that includes tryptophan, tyrosine, and blueberry extract with blueberry juice.
The first two "compensate for the loss" of the mood-related chemicals, per a press release; the latter was added for its antioxidant effects. Some 21 woman began taking the supplements three days after giving birth and took them for just three days. They were then subjected to a sad-mood-induction test, as were 20 control mothers. "The results were dramatic": a sharp increase in depression scores for the controls, but no such depression for the test group. If the results can be replicated on a larger scale, the impact could be staggering; up to 75% of new moms experience the temporary moods swings dubbed the "baby blues," reports WebMD, which tend to resolve within a couple weeks. The most severe cases develop into longer-lasting postpartum depression, which more than one in 10 new moms suffer from. (New dads are affected by postpartum depression, too.)