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In recent months, a handful of the women who have come into my office for assessments have had a unique dilemma. Their chief complaint has been “Bad Feelings” while Breastfeeding. Some of the women also experienced depression or anxiety in other areas of life, and some of them only experienced the “Bad Feelings” while nursing their newborns.

These women described to me intense feelings of rage or deep feelings of despair every time they sat down to nurse their child.  They all said that the bad feelings lasted from the moment the baby latched until a few minutes into the feeding. The first time a woman came into my office describing this, I clearly remembered hearing something about this phenomenon when I was a Doula. I did a quick Google search and came up with something called Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex.

From the D-MER.org website:

Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex is a condition affecting lactating women that is characterized by an abrupt dysphoria, or negative emotions, that occur just before milk release and continuing not more than a few minutes.

Preliminary testing shows that D-MER is treatable if severe, and preliminary investigation shows that inappropriate dopamine activity at the time of the milk ejection reflex is the cause of D-MER.

Dysphoria is defined as an unpleasant or uncomfortable mood, such as sadness, depressed mood, anxiety, irritability, or restlessness. Etymologically, it is the opposite of euphoria.

D-MER can happen in conjunction with a Perinatal Mood or Anxiety Disorder, or it can happen by itself. For more information about D-MER and its treatment, visit: D-MER.org

For information regarding treatment for Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, please visit our Getting Help page.

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