Seasonal Baby Blues
A study out of Sweden suggests that giving birth in fall and winter raise the risk for developing postpartum depression. Over 2,000 women who gave birth over a 12 month period were asked about symptoms of depression and other factors at three different times: 5 days, 6 weeks and 6 months postpartum. Results quickly revealed that postpartum length and the season they had their babies were factors. Giving birth in October through December doubled the likelihood of postpartum depression 6 weeks and 6 months after giving birth compared to women who had babies in April through June. One theory is that hormones fluctuate throughout the year. Also the lack of sunlight in winter which is very prominent in Sweden because it is so far from the equator may affect mood.
Young Mothers Struggle More
A poor relationship with a husband or partner during pregnancy is the biggest predictor of maternal emotional distress, such as depression. New research, published in the journal BMC Public Health, reveals that women who were the most dissatisfied with their relationships with spouses or partners were the most likely to suffer from depression during pregnancy. The Norwegian study of nearly 50,000 women shows that the amount of support the pregnant women received from partners had the strongest link with mental health. Researchers also found that younger mothers struggled more with coping during pregnancy. Experts believe that depression and anxiety during pregnancy may result in low birth weight or premature birth.
No Need for Supplements
In the past few years, supplements of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, found in fish oil have been though to reduce the risk of postpartum depression in mothers, however the latest research finds no benefit. Neither do the supplements appear to boost cognitive development skills in the infants, according to the research presented in the Journal of the American Medical Association. For the study, the researchers evaluated 2,320 women randomly assigned from the 21st week of pregnancy to either take three 500 mg fish oil capsules or a placebo made of vegetable oil. Depression was tested twice after delivery and women taking the supplements only had a 1 percent lower incidence of postpartum depression. Experts generally recommend 200 mg of DHA a day during pregnancy.
Improvements After First Year
Both moms and dads have a greater risk for depression in the first year after a child's birth, but the risk also remains elevated into the child’s adolescence, say British researchers. The study followed almost 87,000 families in the United Kingdom, reports New York Times. In all, 39 percent of mothers and 21 percent of fathers in the study experienced depression within the child's first 12 years. Researchers found that the mother's risk for depression dropped by half after the first year, while fathers had only 25 percent of the risk faced by new dads. The findings, published in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, reveal that depression risk remained elevated compared to the general population until the child reached 12 years, when data collection for the study ended.
Not Only Due to Estrogen Loss
Up to 70 percent of new mothers experience symptoms of depression within the first week after giving birth. While, the symptoms dissipate in most cases, up to 13 percent of women experience clinical level postpartum depression (PPD). Fluctuations in estrogen have been to blame but now new research reveals that, while estrogen levels drop 100 to 1000 fold after giving birth, levels of the enzyme monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) increase dramatically throughout the brain. MAO-A is responsible for breaking down neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, and, ultimately, for controlling our moods. By balancing MAO-A, this research “could have an impact on prevention and treatment of postpartum depression in the future", says lead author Julia Sacher.