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Cause of Postpartum Depression Found?

poatpartum depression

Postpartum depression (or postnatal depression) is the most common complication of new moms and affects about 1 in 7 women. The cause of PPD has been a mystery despite how common the condition is. But there's new information. Researchers have discovered a gene whose absence or impairment can cause postpartum depression.

How was the potential cause of postpartum discovered?

Researchers studied two unrelated boys with obesity, autism, and behavioral problems and discovered both boys were missing a gene known as TRPC5. On checking their mothers, the researchers found this gene to be missing in both women as well.

Not surprisingly, both mothers also have obesity. What's surprising is that both women had experienced postpartum depression. This is more proof that postpartum depression is genetic.

To test the validity of their findings, the researchers experimented on mice by removing or altering that same gene. While the male mice developed the same problems (obesity, etc.) as the boys, the female mice displayed the same symptoms plus postpartum depression after giving birth.

How does TRPC5’s absence cause postnatal depression?

TRPC5 is a gene that acts on oxytocin neurons. As you might know, oxytocin is often called the "love hormone" because it promotes the display of affection and bonding.

So, when the gene is missing or impaired, all of that is compromised, and postpartum depression may occur as the mother is no longer able to display love and bonding with the child.

That's not all, though.

TRPC5 is also involved in controlling appetite in the hypothalamus as well as regulating weight. Hence, overeating and obesity may result when this gene is missing or deficient.

This reveals why an individual lacking TRPC5 may experience all those conditions at the same time.

How does this study help?

Since oxytocin, which promotes love, is compromised due to a missing or deficient TRPC5 gene, the researchers say restoring oxytocin could help treat people with postpartum depression.

Of course, this may be just one piece of the puzzle, as there are usually many factors influencing a psychiatric disorder. But it's a significant piece all the same. And it can help many people.

Aside from that, the study teaches us to be more empathetic towards people battling with eating disorders, obesity, postnatal depression, or any condition we think is under our direct control. Some of these things are rooted in our biology, and we may be unable to change our situation by just wishing it.

More on the research here.

Need help?

Whether you have an eating disorder or postnatal depression, we can help.

At Hope Mental Health, we provide safe, effective psychiatric care in Boise & Meridian, Idaho, SLC & the Wasatch Front, Utah. Also serving OR, AZ, NV, WA & FL.

Contact us today.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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