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Surprising Science

Symptoms of Maternal Depression Start Before Giving Birth

Researchers believe they've found some connections in women that may help predict postpartum depression before childbirth.

Pam Belluck from The New York Times has written on a recent study that brings new information to helping those with maternal depression. The results indicate it isn’t as cut and dry as once originally presumed. The symptoms of postpartum depression don’t always manifest after the birth of a child. Researchers have found there are a few early indicators from bodily complications to mild depression that should act as an early indicator during a mother’s pregnancy.

The study, published in Lancet Psychiatry, featured more than 8,200 female participants, who were all mothers, from 19 centers in seven separate countries. The data indicated that the severest symptoms associated with postpartum depression often began during the pregnancy, which included frequent crying, suicidal thoughts, and increased anxiety.

Meanwhile, women who would experience moderate depression after birth didn’t show any symptoms of depression during their pregnancy. However, this group of women experienced certain complications, such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, or hypertension. Around 60 percent who had postpartum depression reported these issues, which would suggest a compromised immune system may account for these problems. Whereas, classic postpartum depression is usually caused by plummeting hormone levels, which causes a chemical imbalance.

These symptoms could be a red flag. The researchers plan to continue their studies to find more evidence linking the symptoms. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, director of the University of North Carolina’s Perinatal Psychiatry Program said:

“Ideally, you could determine who’s at risk. What we do now is wait for people to get sick.”

Read more at The New York Times.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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