The trace elements included were Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, and Copper. All four elements were involved in both pathophisiologies and treatment of Postpartum Mood Disorders.
With Zinc, levels were lower in women struggling with a PMD. Altered levels of Zinc can lead to behavioral disturbances including depression according to the researchers.
Magnesium deficiency is linked to a number of psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and various other mood disorders. According to the researchers, “In pregnancy, the fetus and placenta absorb huge amounts of nutrients particularly magnesium from the mother; this depletion of magnesium with not enough intake of magnesium is hypothesized to be a cause of postpartum depression. Further, nursing is known to deplete maternal magnesium as well. (This is cited as source 31 in their writing)
Iron deficiency can be at the root of depression, learning difficulties, and a number of additional issues. “Iron is the most common single nutrient deficiency in the world and more than 50% of women at reproductive age suffer from iron deficiency,” according to the researchers. Primarily in depression though, the researchers focused on the need of normal iron levels in order to produce dopamine, “a neurotransmitter that plays a significant role in mood disorders.”
Copper is intrinsically important in the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine, as stated in the researchers report. A deficiency in Copper contributes to a deficiency in dopamine and norepinephrine, causing depression and possible additional mental disorders. Low copper leves showed an association with Postpartum Mood Disorders in one of the studies examined but yet a different study showed higher levels. More research is needed to further examine the specifics of Copper to Postpartum Mood Disorders and to determine what levels are therapeutic in warding them away.
The researchers concluded an examination of the levels of the above four trace elements is important both in the diagnosis and treatment of Postpartum Mood Disorder. These trace elements may prove to be a good alternative approach for treatment, especially for nursing mothers who wish to avoid pharmacological involvement in their recoveries.
Bottom line though – make sure your doctor examines physical causes including vitamin and mineral deficiencies before handing over that script for an anti-depressant.