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Physiological Basis of Post-Partum Depression

J. N. Oko-Ose, T. A. Ehwarieme



Depression is an affective disorder that is of great importance, since its impact is not only on the affected patient’s life, but also on the society as a whole. The diagnosis is characterized by the depressed mood and loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities. The rate of depression co-existing with the other psychiatric disorders can be as high as 60–70 %. Depression is three times more common among women than men and the peak incidence in women occurs during their reproductive years. Postpartum depression, affects 10–20 % of newly delivered women can therefore represent a woman’s “debut” to a life-time of recurrent depressive episodes. Research into the mechanisms of postpartum depression (PPD) is a challenging task, as normal pregnancy and the postpartum period cause endocrine changes, which would otherwise be considered pathological in nonpregnant women. This review focuses on the physiological changes of child-bearing and nursing a child, which ultimately may put women at increased risk of PPD. This study reviewed the normal endocrinology of pregnancy and postpartum period so that the physiological changes associated with the development of depression in the postpartum period, such as ovarian steroids, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, serotonergic neurotransmitter system, thyroid system and inflammatory markers can be appreciated.

Keywords: Postpartum, depression, physiologic, pregnancy

Cite this Article

Oko-Ose J.N and Ehwarieme T.A. Physiological Basis of Post-Partum Depression. Research and Reviews: Journal of Medical Science and Technology. 2016; 5(1): 1–12p.

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