Can yoga cure depression in pregnant women?

Can yoga cure depression in pregnant women?

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Research shows that one in five women will experience some form of depression during pregnancy or after they give birth - which is why researchers at VCU are launching a study to examine if prenatal yoga could help moms and moms-to-be manage their depression.

For mom's with postpartum depression, they describe it as an insidious and intrusive disorder.

"The first time it happened, he was two weeks old," said Abby Dini. "I envisioned throwing him over the bridge into oncoming traffic."

Dini knew the thoughts she was having about harming her child were wrong, but she couldn't stop them.

"I'm not really going to throw my baby over the bridge, it was just an intrusive thought. So then I continued walking over the bridge, but then it happened again two weeks later," Dini said.

Dini suffered anxiety throughout her pregnancy and postpartum OCD after her son was born. She then had postpartum rage after her second pregnancy. PPD manifests in many forms. It made Kathleen Bell feel like she was living under a fog.

"Not wanting to eat, not wanting to take care of yourself. You really feel yourself slip backwards and falling away from living," she said.

Research shows that nearly 20 percent of pregnant women experience depression during pregnancy, and 13 percent experience chronic, recurrent symptoms.

"There's a lot of guilt around not connecting with your child because there is something wrong with you," said Dini.

Dini says working out, along with medication and treatment, helped her start to feel more like herself.

Studies show there is a link between mental health and physical activity. Which is why Patricia Kinser, an Assistant Professor at VCU School of Nursing, wants to find out if yoga could be a way for moms to manage their depression.

Kinser thinks the practice could be a great addition to anti-depressants, and other medications prescribed to moms with PPD.

"They still want something that they can control, that empowers them to help themselves," Kinser said.

Kinser says yoga is the perfect activity for busy moms, because they can do it at home, or with a group, and the practice is both safe and relaxing.

"Maybe they learn a breathing practice in their yoga class that [they can use] when they are feeling stressed at work, or with their child, or with their family," said Kinser.

Along with practicing yoga, Kinser says moms in the study will participate in "motivational interviews," where nurses will talk with them about their depression and what they want to change.

Participants' blood will also be drawn to understand the impacts of depression on their genes.

"If we can give women tools in their tool box for self-care, for self-management of their depressive symptoms during pregnancy, they can carry that forward into that postpartum period when they have all the additional stressers of having a baby," Kinser said.

VCU School of Nursing will start recruiting the 40 women they need for the study at the end of the summer.

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