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Posts Tagged ‘postpartum depression’

According to a recent New York Times article (12/8, D6 http://tinyurl.com/depressed-dads) up to 80 percent of women experience minor sadness after giving birth, and about 10 percent plummet into severe postpartum depression.  But it turns out that men can also have postpartum depression.  4 percent of fathers have clinically significant depressive symptoms within eight weeks of the birth of their children.  A 2006 study on marmoset monkeys, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, reported that new fathers experienced a rapid increase in receptors for the hormone vasopressin in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. Along with other hormones, vasopressin is involved in parental behavior in animals, and it is known that the same brain area in humans is activated when parents are shown pictures of their children.  There is also some evidence that testosterone levels tend to drop in men during their partner’s pregnancy, perhaps to make expectant fathers less aggressive and more likely to bond with their newborns.  Given the known association between depression and low testosterone in middle-aged men, it is possible that this might also put some men at risk of postpartum depression.  By far the strongest predictor of paternal postpartum depression is having a depressed partner.  In one study, fathers whose partners were also depressed were at nearly two and a half times the normal risk for depression.

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postpartum_depressionHealthDay (9/23, Dotinga) reported that researchers from Spain’s Polytechnic University of Valencia claim to have “developed ways to detect 80 percent of cases of postpartum depression.” The team “examined records on 1,397 Spanish women who gave birth in an 11-month span in seven hospitals,” then “devised several models” to “predict whether a woman will develop depression within a few weeks after giving birth.” The investigators did so by “examining risk factors that are linked to postnatal depression, including previous psychiatric problems in the family, the level of social support for the mother, and the state of genes connected to the condition.”

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MedWire (5/27, Grasmo) reports that, according to a study published online May 8 in the journal Bipolar Disorders, “hypomanic symptoms are common in the postpartum period and are significantly increased from” prenatal “rates in the general population.” For the study, researchers from the UK’s University of Birmingham “recruited 446 women at 12 weeks of pregnancy who were then asked to complete the Highs Scale and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) at baseline, one week, and eight weeks postpartum.” The investigators found that “hypomanic symptoms were significantly increased in the early postpartum period, with the number of cases of ‘the highs’ higher in the immediate postpartum period, compared with pregnancy and eight weeks postpartum (11.7 vs. 1.4 and 4.9, respectively).” The authors concluded that the “perinatal period is likely a period of high risk for specific groups of women, particularly those with a previous psychiatric history.”

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