Postpartum depression is a serious mental disorder that affects more and more young mothers. Soon it will be possible to determine the high risk of this disease in advance with the help of a blood test that will prevent its occurrence.
The British researchers, who developed the principles of the new test that can quickly identify the risk of postnatal depression, say that these days the problem appears in one out of seven pregnant women, that is, it affects more than 14% of mothers.
At present, there are only methods to determine the presence of the disease after its appearance, but no reliable method to identify women at risk in advance has been created yet.
Postnatal depression usually develops in young mothers, approximately 2 weeks after birth. But the authors of the new method, the representatives of the Warwick Medical School, have found that even during pregnancy there appear specific changes in the expression of two genes in women, who are prone to the emergence of this disease.
One gene controls the glucocorticoid receptor, and the other controls the functions of the receptor responsible for the release of the adrenocorticotropin hormone. The two receptors control the activity of the so-called hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortex axis, a part of the endocrine system, responsible for the body’s response to stress.
The changes in gene expression begin long before the appearance of the symptoms of depression, which can be determined using a blood sample with the help of the procedure developed by the scientists from Warwick.
The authors indicate that in most cases the propensity to develop postnatal depression is hereditary and is associated with the individual characteristics of the female organism in reaction to stress.