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PostNatal and PeriNatal Depression

The Perinatal period covers the time from when pregnancy begins to one year after the baby is born. Symptoms associated with depression and anxiety can occur anytime during this time frame. Counselling can be an effective way to deal with the issues involved, however there can be other factors operating that need another healing modality. Often individuals are prescribed antidepressants and they experience side effects and/or the medication doesn't alleviate their condition. The research and therapeutic approach of The Walsh Institute to the symptoms of depression and anxiety during pregnancy and postnatal offers an alternative to the more often encountered protocols. Their approach has also uncovered details about the condition that is not widely known or usually contained within the medical repertoire of the majority of GP's in Australia. The information that follows is not medical advice, if you are interested you will need to consult your own GP or find a medical doctor trained in the relevant protocols. As at May 2016 there are only approximately 120 GP's in Australia trained in the Pfeiffer/Walsh protocols. For a list of Australian trained doctors visit BioBalance.

Much of the efficacy of the Pfeiffer/Walsh treatment approach hinges upon successfully individualising aspects of each patients biochemistry. After seeing 3,500 patients with clinical depression and several hundred with PostNatal Depression - called Postpartum Depression (PPD) in The States - Dr. William Walsh has made the following observations:

  • Most PPD females exhibit a Copper Overload and Zinc deficiency;
  • Most PPD females report major improvement after nutrient therapy aimed at balancing Copper and Zinc levels;
  • Most normals have Copper/Zinc ratios in the 0.75 to 1.15 range;
  • Most PPD females exhibit a Copper/Zinc ratio in the 1.5 to 2.0 range;
  • The cause of the elevated ratio values in PPD females appears to be a genetic weakness in regulation of Copper and Zinc which may involve weak functioning of the Metallothionein/Glutathione system.

With regard to depression and anxiety during pregnancy Dr. Walsh comments:
  • These symptoms are often caused by an inborn inability to regulate Copper and Zinc in the body;
  • In order to provide sufficient Copper to the fetus to support angiogenesis, a woman's blood Copper level more than doubles during pregnancy;
  • Persons with a genetic tendency for Copper overload can experience real difficulty during and immediately after pregnancy as elevated Copper levels in their blood result in diminished dopamine and elevated norepinephrine in the brain - a recipe for depression/anxiety etc.
For both conditions above Dr. Walsh suggests a blood serum test for copper and a plasma test for zinc. If the levels are severely abnormal, there are natural treatments which can correct the problem.

There are some considerations in respect of the information above for people in Queensland and probably all other Australian States and Territories. In Queensland the two major testing laboratories are Sullivan and Nicolaides (S&N) and Queensland Medical Laboratories (QML). Dr. Walsh's research concerning optimal levels of Cooper and Zinc in the blood differ from the ranges reported by these laboratories as normal. The concept of free, or unbound, Copper in the blood is not reported. The Copper/Zinc ratio is usually not reported and therefore not necessarily considered by your GP.

If you are experiencing the above issues and haven't found satisfactory alleviation you may want to consider the following information from the Pfeiffer/Walsh Protocols.

Dr. Walsh considers that a percentage free copper above 20% is elevated. The ranges he gives for Percentage Free Copper are:

  • 5 to 20% = Normal
  • 20 to 30% = High Normal
  • 30 to 40% = Elevated - High Oxidative Stress
  • above 50% = Severe Elevation - Severe Oxidative Stress

Percentage free Copper or unbound copper in the blood can be calculated from Copper Blood Serum, Zinc Blood Plasma and Caeruloplasmin (ceruloplasmin in The States). In S&N laboratories the results are usually reported in umol/L, umol/L and g/L respectively. The results all have to be in the same units before the percentage free Copper and Copper/Zinc ratio can be calculated. The method of calculation is as follows:

First the results need to be converted to micrograms per decilitre (ug/dL).

  • A. ZINC Blood Plasma - Results are usually in umol/L. Divide by 0.153 to convert to ug/dL
  • B. COPPER Blood Serum - Results are usually in umol/L. Divide by 0.1574 to convert to ug/dL
  • C. CAERULOPLASMIN - Results often in g/L. Multiply by 100,000 to convert to ug/dL.

Other conversion factors you may need for Caeruloplasmin, depending on what units your results are reported in are:
  • For results in mg/dL, multiply by 1,000 to convert to ug/dL
  • For results in mg/L, multiply by 100 to convert to ug/dL
  • For results in ug/L, divide by 10 to convert to ug/dL
  • For results in ng/mL, multiply by 10 to convert to ug/dL

To calculate the Copper/Zinc Ratio divide Copper in ug/dL by Zinc in ug/dL. Dr. Walsh's normal range is 0.75 to 1.15. Most females with PPD are in the 1.5 to 2.0 range.

Finally, calculating the percentage free copper is a 3 step process.

Step 1. Calculate the amount of copper bound in Caeruloplasmin - Multiply Caeruloplasmin in ug/dL (C above) by 0.003.

Step 2. Calculate the amount of copper not bound in Caeruloplasmin - Copper blood Serum results in ug/dL (B above) minus copper bound in Caeruloplasmin (the result from Step 1).

Step 3. Calculate the Percentage Free Copper. Copper not bound (result from Step 2) divided by Copper Blood Serum (B above) then multiply the result by 100.

Lastly refer to Dr. Walsh's reference levels above for Percentage Free Copper and Copper/Zinc Ratio to compare your results with the ranges determined by his research.

Other tests a GP trained in the Pfeiffer/Walsh protocols may want to order are specific to Methylation Cycles, one of the most recent tests has been developed by Doctors Data in the states, there is some info here and here. A further test is a urinary test for Pyrrole Disorder as psychological symptoms including anxiety and depression combined with a high value for the Copper/Zinc ratio may suggest the presence of this condition. For information regarding Pyrrole Disorder visit here.

For a list of doctors trained in the Pfeiffer/Walsh protocols in Australia visit BioBalance.