The study identifies possible links between the immune system and postpartum depression


A new study showed the relationship between the immune system and the development of postpartum depression following stress during pregnancy. Researchers at Ohio State University found signs of inflammation in brain areas responsible for balancing mood and evidence of changes in the functioning of existing immune cells in the body. Results can help in the design of future treatments for a problem that can reach up to 15% of women after birth, according to a study.

The study, presented on Tuesday, 6, during the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, observed females, under stress during pregnancy, given that the condition is already a recognizable risk factor for the disorder. Scientists have found that in women, young women began to decrease their attention with their puppies, as well as signs of depression and anxiety in performing their tasks.

In contrast to non-stressed animals, women in their brain tissues also had higher rates of inflammatory markers.

The study also pointed to evidence that stress can alter the function of immune cells acting in the brain known as microglice. The researchers studied the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain-related mood associated with a worsening of depression.

"Postpartum depression is poorly researched and as a result we still do not understand it," says Benedetta Leuner, associate professor of psychology at the university, leading research author. "A better understanding of the factors contributing to this serious and predominant disorder will be the key to finding ways to better help women struggling (against this problem). "

Problems with childbirth and excessive fatigue are among the symptoms of worsening depression. "Women are more susceptible to depression because of the time of stress, challenge and change." Apathy and "do nothing" are part of the image, which leads to great suffering. The diagnosis should be as quick as possible to solve the child's relationship with the mother, " explains the gynecologist and maternity hospital of the São Luiz hospital to Itaim Alberto Guimarães.

One of the creators of the Parto Sem Medo program says that not every feeling of apathy or sadness is associated with depression. "In the direct post-natal period, it is normal for a woman to have" children's blues "or" puerperal blues, "but she is transient."

Preliminary research on the topic focused primarily on hormonal explanations of the problem, although studies have already been carried out in connection with the immune system, where scientists have observed signs of inflammation in the blood, which did not occur in this research.

"It was particularly interesting that we did not find evidence of increased inflammation in the blood, but we have noticed in this area of ​​the brain what is important for balancing the mood. We are really excited because this suggests that inflammation in the brain can contribute to post- "says Kathryn Lenz, co-author of the study and also Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University.

Kathryn estimates that the finding can help establish the goal of treatment, either by means of medications or techniques such as meditation, nutrition and stress reduction.

"Postpartum depression is comprehensive and can have a negative impact on the whole family. We hope that these and future research will improve the lives of women and people around them," concludes Benedetta.


According to a leading author of the study in the United States, it is estimated that at least half a million women are affected each year every year. And in the Benedetine assessment, that number may be smaller than the actual case level.

In Brazil, a study of 23,896 women in the six to eighteen months after birth showed that 26.3% of women had symptoms of postpartum depression.

The poll was conducted by National School of Public Health Sérgio Arouca of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Ensp / Fiocruz) and published in 2016.

"Many women feel that they have a negative opinion after birth that they are poor mothers and are afraid of judging that they are incompetent. One of the major barriers to accessing treatment is stigmatization," says Márcia Baldisseroto, a perinatal psychologist and doctorate in the epidemiological program Ensp / Fiocruz.

Whoever is around the new mother must not only observe the signs of her suffering, but also provide support.

"It is very important that those who are here offer support without a judgment to exploit this place from motherhood as happiness alone." One of the great stresses is the very indebtedness of women for the idealization of motherhood. . "

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