D-MER indicates a burst of negative emotions and/or thoughts during milk ejection while breastfeeding or pumping (and sometimes spontaneously). It is unknown at this time just how many women this dysphoria experience affects. This can largely be contributed to the fact that many women are not sure what is normal and what is not, or what should be discussed of their experiences while breastfeeding. Some women who have been willing to answer surveys when given the opportunity, have reflected on the experience as so disturbing that they were fearful to share it with others.
While D-MER can vary from one breastfeeding woman to the next, we do know the experience of D-MER can be worsened if also experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic, PTSD, OCD in the postpartum period.
While there is much more to learn about D-MER, it is known that the experience involves the hormones oxytocin and prolactin; both important elements of breastfeeding and breast milk production. Others have also hypothesized that the hormone dopamine is involved in the experience of dysphoria (or negative feelings/thoughts).
While further research is needed to learn about solid treatments that work uniformly across populations of Mothers, it can be helpful to gather knowledge so you have an understanding of what you or a loved one may be experiencing. We share the below resources to help give words/description to this experience.
Open communication with those you trust about what you may be experiencing can help lessen fear of the symptoms and help your support system know how to provide or suggest help.