CAMH researchers uncover possible biological link for Postpartum Mood Disorders


Researchers at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, or CAMH, have recently published an intriguing study regarding a biological link to Postpartum Mood Disorders.

The study involved 30 women; 15 of whom were immediately postpartum and 15 who were not at all postpartum. All women underwent PET scans to measure MAO-A binding.

The findings are stunning.

Normal women who have just delivered a baby had 43% higher MAO-A levels than women who had not given birth.

Why is this stunning?

Well, it has to do with the role of MAO-A in the body. MAO-A is a protein which helps to remove chemicals from your body like serotonin which help you maintain a good mood. Elevated levels of MAO-A means that more serotonin is being cleaned out of your body, thus making you sadder. Wait, there’s a kicker. The highest MAO-A levels were recorded on Day 5 post-delivery, the most severe day of the baby blues.

Interestingly enough, MAO-A is also located in the placenta, in the  Syncytiotrophoblast layer where moms and babies exchange nutrients.

While social struggles and lack of support may exacerbate the symptoms and increase the recovery from a Postpartum Mood Disorder, researchers like Dr. Jeffrey Meyer and Dr. Michael Silverman are peeling back more and more layers each and every day. They’re exploring deeper than ever before into a neurobiological basis of Postpartum Mood Disorders which may one day allow us to successfully avoid the experience all together. What a day that will be! Until then, we need to continue to provide non-judgmental and compassionate support for moms and families struggling with a Postpartum Mood Disorder. It’s through the careful marriage of research, social support and medical support that we will best reach recovery.

Additional Sources:

A New Biological Explanation for Sadness in early Postpartum, CAMH Press Release, retrieved 05/04/2010

Canadian Researcher seeks young moms for research study


I received the following via email this morning. Passing it along. If you would do the same, I know Dr. Gina Wong-Wylie would be deeply appreciative. Thank you!

SEEKING RESEARCH PARTICIPANTS

April, May, and June 2010

Qualitative Research Study:

“Young Moms Can Soar”

Close to half of women under the age of 19 years who become young mothers are estimated to develop Postpartum Depression (PPD). Researchers with the Centre for Disease Control have indeed confirmed that young mothers are at an elevated risk for developing PPD. Nevertheless, the experience of depression for young moms does not necessitate negative long-term consequence and lifelong disadvantage. In this study, the researcher explores experiences of young moms who moved through PPD to a place of empowerment.

Participants:

  • If you had a baby at, or before, the age of 19 years not more than 15 years ago
  • If you experienced depression following the birth of the baby
  • If you moved or are moving through the depression and are experiencing life more positively
  • And you are willing to speak about the experience of maternal depression as a young mother and share stories of growth from that experience and positive outcome for the purposes of research.

Please Contact Researcher:

Dr. Gina Wong-Wylie, Registered Psychologist

Email: ginaw@athabascau.ca

Toll Free in Canada: 1-866-442-3089

Postpartum Depression formal screening not worth the cost, BMJ study says


According to a recently published study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Postpartum Depression Screening is not…. brace yourselves. Worth the cost.

That’s right.

NOT.WORTH.THE.COST.

In their cost effective analysis, the researchers used “A hypothetical population of women assessed for postnatal depression either via routine care only or supplemented by use of formal identification methods six weeks postnatally, as recommended in recent guidelines.”

The conclusion was that overall not using a formal screening method was much more cost effective as it eliminated false positives.

So the mental health of a woman which will then affect her child, her family, her community, the world at large, are just not worth it to the National Health System of the UK. The EPDS scored out at about $67,000 per quality adjusted life years while no screening method scored at a price tag of just $20 – $30,000. No value for the money was found to exist when using the formal identification methods.

Did these researchers not read Murray & Cooper’s Controlled trial of the short- and long-term effect of psychological treatment of post-partum depression which explores the effects of postpartum depression treatments on children?

There is SO much more at stake here than the dollar value to the National Health System.

There’s the potential for broken families. The potential for children growing into their own mental health issues, the potential for continued need for mental health treatment due to an undiagnosed episode of postpartum depression, potential for increased incarcerations due to untreated mental illness, continued sadness, the continued stigma, continued and perpetuated lack of education on the part of physicians in regards to Postpartum Mood Disorders.

The most interesting aspect of this study is that it focused on screening for Postpartum Depression in the Primary Care setting. Primary care physicians are not always comfortable or knowledgeable in screening for mental health issues. If a patient were to screen positive, that physician is then morally responsible for referring them to a specialist. Often times, at least here in the states, a Primary Care physician is unaware of where to refer a patient for help with a Postpartum Depression Disorder. Therefore, they become afraid of screening because they fear what will happen if a positive were to occur. What would they do with the patient? Where would they send them? How would they respond? Are they familiar enough with Postpartum Mood Disorders to recognize a false positive?

I think the key to the results of this study is not so much in blaming the high percentage of false positives but in urging that Primary Care physicians receive more training to enable them to recognize a false positive through more in depth questions after a positive is scored via the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.

original photo/graphic "Hand holding necklace" by K.Sawyer @flickr

A stronger safety net involving a stronger communication between midwives, Obstetricians, Pediatricians, and General Practitioners is so desperately needed to keep women from falling through the very big cracks which currently exist in the system.

Let’s think about this for a moment, shall we?

A woman gets pregnant. She sees a medical physician to get the pregnancy confirmed. Most mothers seek OB or midwife care for their entire pregnancy. Unless they’re depressed – depressed and mentally ill mothers are less likely to take good care of themselves during a pregnancy, making specialized care even more important even when baby is still in utero. Once mothers give birth, they are then shuttled off to the pediatrician’s office for the bulk of their medical contact. One six week or eight week visit to the midwife or OB to ensure mom is healing properly then an annual PAP visit unless something arises in between. Many Pediatricians focus on babies and not mother. But the tide is changing as more and more Pediatricians are taking into account the family lifestyle and well-being. My own Pediatrician does this and I absolutely adore her for it.

But overall, there is typically no continuity of care, no communication between physicians throughout the birth process. There should be. There needs to be. A woman deserves a team of support. She deserves to thrive. So do her children.

No matter what the cost.

Because once you fail woman and her children, you fail society.

Fail society and we fail to exist.

If we fail to exist….

Validation of the EPDS in Mainland China for antenatal women


Through research, the Mainland Chinese version of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale has been validated.

What does this mean?

It means the EPDS is now a valid tool practitioners available for use in the Chengdu region of China to identify pregnant mothers struggling with depression.

More research is needed to validate it for postnatal women. The overall prevalence of antenatal depression was at about 4.7%. Two studies were conducted: One to measure stability, the other to measure sensitivity. Both passed with flying colours.

To read more about this, click here.

Doctoral Student survey examining Postpartum depression, attachment style and the mother-daughter relationship


Doctoral candidate Kristi Marshall at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, TN, is studying postpartum depression in new mothers. She is currently seeking 18-40 year old women who are within 1 year of giving birth. A postpartum depression diagnosis is not necessary for participation. Kristi hopes this research will contribute to the understanding and treatment of postpartum mood disorders.

The questionnaires for this study will take about 10 minutes to complete. If you submit your email address you will be entered to win one of several $20 gift cards. You will be eligible if you complete the entire survey by December 31, 2009.
If you have any questions before participating, please contact Kristi at kmarshallcounseling(@)gmail(dot)com.
The questionnaires, with a consent form and instructions, can be accessed by clicking on the following link: Postpartum depression, attachment style and the mother-daughter relationship.

Please feel free to forward this information to other women who might be willing to participate!