Researchers have found a means of checking which women are most at risk of postnatal depression by checking for certain genetic variants. The results could lead to the creation of an easy, accurate blood test that determines the chance of developing postnatal depression.
About 1 in 7 women that give birth experience postnatal depression, which usually starts a couple of weeks following childbirth. Postnatal depression is a severe disorder, and not the same as the ‘baby blues’, which is much milder. Symptoms can include sadness, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced libido, crying episodes, irritability and anxiety.
Existing screening guidelines for postnatal depression cases depend on making use of tools like the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Score, yet these kinds of tests can’t determine women at risk, prior to them getting the condition.
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a self reported list of 10 questions designed to establish if women have postnatal depression. Items on the scale match a variety clinical depression symptoms, and overall evaluation is established from the total score from the sum of the 10 items.
The study evaluated two hundred pregnant women for postnatal depression making use of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Score, once on their 1st visit to the antenatal clinic, and again 2 to 8 weeks after the birth. The women who suffered from postnatal depression had been more likely to have certain genetic variants which manage the activity of an endocrine system which is triggered as a result of stress. The hypothalamus is a section of the human brain which monitors numerous areas of the condition of the human body’s systems and is also closely connected with the pituitary gland, which releases many different hormones in to the bloodstream which control vital body functions.
The result seems to reveal that postnatal depression is a specific sub group of depression having a distinct genetic element meaning that some women are genetically more prone to the environmental factors that lead to depression.