The Toronto Star recently reported that “a simple blood test” done early in a woman’s pregnancy may soon be able to detect DNA changes that predict postpartum depression. According to the article, a study recently published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry examined blood samples of 93 pregnant women and found that approximately 80% of those who would later go on to develop postpartum depression shared a sensitivity to changes in estrogen at the level of their genes (that is, in their DNA). Estrogen, labeled by some as “the big kahuna” of the female hormones, is produced by both the ovaries and the placenta and is vital to pregnancy – basically, no estrogen means no pregnancy. The obvious implications of the research are that help for depression can be provided to women who are at risk before it settles in.
Postpartum depression is more serious than the typical “baby blues” that can occur within hours of delivering a baby, but requires no treatment and usually resolves within hours or days. Symptoms of postpartum depression can last longer and be more severe. It can also develop into a full-blown, major depression, which raises the risk of other depressive episodes throughout the lifespan.
The US National Institute of Health estimates that 1 in every 10 women may develop symptoms of postpartum depression in the year after childbirth.
Call Shift Cognitive Therapy for non-medication help with depression in Oakville.