Postpartum Depression Is Different From Other Mood Disorders; Changes In Treatments Or Approach Needed, Says Study

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald January 29, 04:00 am
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Experts have learned that postpartum depression should be treated differently than other mood disorders.
(Photo : John Moore/Getty Images )

A new study is shedding more light into postpartum depression. Experts have learned what moms might feel after giving birth is distinct from other types of mood disorders. The discovery should help doctors and other practitioners dealing with moms with postpartum depression to come up with a better treatment plan for their patients.

Experts looked into the neurobiology of mothers with postpartum depression and compared this with the neurobiology of individuals diagnosed with major mood disorders. They analyzed brain scans that showed mothers actually have a different pattern of brain activity from those who have not just given birth. The findings were published in the Trends in Neurosciences journal.

The brain processes fear, pressure and other threats in the amygdala. For most individuals suffering from depression or anxiety, the amygdala tends to be hyperactive and highly-stimulated as they respond to the emotional cues around them. For new mothers, however, their amygdala is less activated and stimulated to these emotional cues except when it is about their baby.

The findings reveal postpartum depression is not like the traditionally classified mood disorders that are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders. Perinatal mood disorders are listed in this manual but the condition is generally under-researched.

"Motherhood really can change the mother, which is something we often overlook," one of the study authors Dr. Jodi Pawluski said, according to Psych Central. "We forget about examining the neurobiology of maternal mental health and maternal mental illness, particularly anxiety."

Pawluski said there are not enough studies done about postpartum neurobiology when there should be more research especially since one in five moms suffer from this condition after giving birth. As a mother herself, she hopes that their findings will help pave way for other experts to come up with more specific and tailored treatment options for moms with postpartum issues.

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