Friday, December 19, 2008
Between 5% and 25% of all new mothers are thought to suffer some form of post-natal depression, and can find it hard to cope with the demands of the baby, or even to form a bond with it.
In a recent study from UCLA, scientists found that mice having post partum depression laced a certain chemical receptor in their brains. They say that the receptor helps stop brain cells from firing too often in response to changes in hormone levels during pregnancy and birth.
Researchers focused their work on a chemical messaging system in the brain already known to play a key part in the regulation of mood and anxiety. A chemical called GABA can decrease the activity of certain nerve cells after coming into contact with receptors on that cell's surface.
The UCLA team noticed that a particular type of this receptor appeared to be highly active during pregnancy and the period after birth in mice. Their theory is that this variety of receptor might help, in normal circumstances, to keep control over the brain's response to huge hormonal changes during and immediately after pregnancy. Failure to do this effectively may be the root of some post-natal mood problems which result in the shunning of newborns.
To test this, they bred mice to have fewer of these receptors. These genetically-altered mice behaved like mothers with post-natal depression, being more lethargic, and shunning their newborn babies. When they were then given a drug known to boost the function of these receptors, the symptoms eased and mice baby deaths fell.
This is exciting news because it means that medical professionals now have a better idea on what type of drugs may effectively treat this type of problem in humans.
If you know of any new mothers experiencing post-partum blues, please refer them to their doctor to seek immediate treatment. There is no reason a mother has to suffer through the blues since this problem can be remedied with medication and other forms of therapy.
photo by: Satoy