Omega 3s and Postpartum Depression

DHA/EHA-Rich Foods Relieve Minor PPD symptoms

Postpartum depression (PPD) strikes 1 in 8 women. Can adding omega-3 foods to your diet help prevent the baby blues and more serious postpartum depression?

Recent studies (such as one conducted by The University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson) have shown a link between a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids (DHA & EHA) and postpartum depression. The good news? There is a promising reduction in PPD symptoms when new mothers boost omega 3 consumption on a daily basis.

Mercury Intake During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

If you are concerned about potentially dangerous mercury intake by eating too much fish, you can choose from many safe sources of DHA/EHA, including certain low-mercury fish and vegetarian sources.

Among the beneficial non-fish sources of omega 3 fatty acids are canola oil; flaxseed (seeds & oil); hempseed (seeds & oil); pumpkin seeds; walnuts & walnut oil; and omega-3 enriched eggs. When purchasing higher-priced omega-3 enriched eggs, make sure that they contain at least 225mg of omega-3’s per egg. Many brands only contain 100mg, making the higher cost barely justifiable.

See our list below for other safe sources

Mercury Intake During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

f you are concerned about potentially dangerous mercury intake by eating too much fish, you can choose from many safe sources of DHA/EHA, including certain low-mercury fish and vegetarian sources.

Among the beneficial non-fish sources of omega 3 fatty acids are canola oil; flaxseed (seeds & oil); hempseed (seeds & oil); pumpkin seeds; walnuts & walnut oil; and omega-3 enriched eggs. When purchasing higher-priced omega-3 enriched eggs, make sure that they contain at least 225mg of omega-3’s per egg. Many brands only contain 100mg, making the higher cost barely justifiable.

See our list below for other safe sources

How Much DHA Do You Need to Relieve Postpartum Depression Symptoms

In the University of Arizona study, depression symptoms improved significantly over the couse of the 8-weeks study with as little as .5 gram of omega-3 fatty acids per day.

You can easily obtain that amount each day by eating any of the following:

  • 2 omega-3 enriched eggs and 2 ounces of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon of flaxseed oil (add to a smoothie)
  • 1 small tin of anchovies
  • 2 ounces of salmon
  • 1/2 ounce of walnuts

Below is a list of food sources rich in Omega 3s. Consume the Safest Sources every day; limit the Borderline Sources to no more the 2x a week COMBINED; avoid the high-mercury sources completely until you stop breastfeeding your baby (and then limit your intake).

SAFEST SOURCESBORDERLINE SOURCES
AnchoviesCatfish
Canola OilOysters (cooked; avoid Gulf Coast oysters)
Eggs, omega-3 enrichedSalmon (farmed)
Fish oil supplements (derived from the fish body, not the fish liver)Shrimp
Flaxseed oilTrout
Hempseed oilHIGH-MERCURY SOURCES
Krill OilKing Mackerel
Pumpkin seedsOrange Roughy
Salmon (wild-caught)Red Snapper
SardinesShark
WalnutsSwordfish
 Tilefish
 Tuna

The Natural Resources Defense Counsel provides a printable wallet-sized card covering the mercury levels in a variety of fish.

Postpartum Depression Warning Signs

Most women experience some degree of depression in the days and weeks following childbirth. Mild mood swings, crying, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and feelings of anxiety are typical, and wil usually lessen within a couple of weeks following delivery. Incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, as noted above, may provide relief.

However, if you experience more severe symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. The following symptoms of severe postpartum depression are serious and real.

  • Feelings or thoughts about hurting your baby
  • Feelings or thoughts about huring yourself
  • Disinterest in or detachment from your baby
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid and/or frequent severe mood swings

Contact your obstetrician or pediatrician IMMEDIATELY if you experience any of these more severe postpartum depression symptoms

Postpartum Depression Resources

There is nothing weak or embarassing about seeking help. Your baby is depending on you.

Consume safe sources of omega 3s (especially DHA) throughout your pregnancy and after delivery. You’ll fortify your body and mind for the hormonal drama following childbirth, and you’ll aid your baby’s neural development.