A new study shows the relationship between the immune system and the development of depression after childbirth after stress during pregnancy. Researchers at Ohio State University have found signs of inflammation in the area of the brain responsible for regulating moods and evidence of changes in the functioning of immune cells in the body. The results may help in designing future treatments for problems, which can reach up to 15% of postpartum women, according to the survey.
The study was presented on Tuesday, 6, during the annual meeting of the Neuroscience Society, observing female mice under pressure during pregnancy, given that these conditions have become recognized risk factors for the disorder. Scientists found that, like women, guinea pigs began to show reduced attention with their puppies, as well as signs of depression and anxiety in performing tasks.
Unlike non-stressed animals, women also have higher levels of inflammatory markers in their brain tissue.
The study also shows evidence that stress can change the function of immune cells that work in the brain, known as microglia. The researchers looked at the medial prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain associated with mood associated with postpartum depression.
"Postpartum depression is less studied and consequently, it is still poorly understood," said Benedetta Leuner, professor of psychology at the university, lead author of the study. "Having a better understanding of the factors that contribute to serious and general disorders will be key to finding ways to help better women who struggle (fight the problem) "
Difficulties in bonding with infants and excessive fatigue are one of the symptoms of postpartum depression. "With pregnancy, women become more submissive to depression problems, because it is a time of stress, challenges and change. Apati and" do nothing "is part of the picture, which causes a lot of suffering. Diagnosis must be as early as possible. to save the baby's relationship with the mother, "explained the gynecologist and obstetrician at the Hospital of Sao Luiz do Itaim, Alberto Guimarães.
One of the creators of the Medo Parto Sem program, he said that not all feelings of apathy or sadness are associated with depression. "In the immediate postpartum period, it is normal for a woman to have & # 39; baby blues & # 39; & # 39; puerperal blues, & # 39; but that is temporary."
Previous research on the topic has focused primarily on hormonal explanations for this problem, although studies have been carried out overcoming the immune system, where scientists have observed signs of inflammation in the blood, something that did not appear in this study.
"It's very interesting that we found no evidence of increased inflammation in the blood, but we observed in this brain region, which is important for mood regulation. We are really excited because this shows that inflammation in the brain can contribute to post-surgery." labor, "said Kathryn Lenz, study co-author and also assistant professor of psychology at the university.
Kathryn estimates that the findings can help set targets for treatment, either through medication or techniques such as meditation, diet, and stress reduction.
"Postpartum depression weakens and can have a negative impact on the whole family. We hope that this research and the future will improve the lives of women and those around them," Benedetta concluded.
In the United States, according to the lead author of this study, it is estimated that at least half a million women suffer each year from this problem. And, in Benedetta's assessment, the reported numbers may be less than the actual number of cases.
In Brazil, a survey of 23,896 women in the period six to 18 months after birth showed that 26.3% of women had postpartum depression symptoms.
This survey was conducted by the National School of Public Health Sérgio Arouca of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Ensp / Fiocruz) and was published in 2016.
"Many women assume that having postpartum depression means they are poor mothers and they are afraid of evaluating that they are incompetent. One of the major obstacles to access to treatment is stigma," said Márcia Baldisseroto, perinatal psychologist and PhD candidate in the Epidemiology Program of Ensp / Fiocruz.
Anyone around the new mother should not only observe the signs of her suffering, but also offer support.
"It is very important that those around us provide unjudgmental support to take this place from mother to only happiness." One of the great pressures is the responsibility of women because of maternal idealization. . "