Researchers at the University of Queensland have highlighted the need to screen for perinatal depression for women during the pregnancy period, after learning that women suffering from persistent depression have a heightened risk of developing the condition. Perinatal depression includes symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety that women sometimes experience from conception to a year following infant birth.
The study’s objective was to assess the prevalence, timing of onset and duration of depression symptoms in the perinatal period in women with depression. The study involved more than 7,000 participants who were divided into two subgroups: women who had previously been diagnosed with perinatal depression and those with no prior history of depression.
The researchers used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to identify women who suffered from postpartum depression. The scale is made up of 10 screening questions that indicate whether an individual has symptoms common in women with anxiety and depression during pregnancy, with the maximum score being 30. The primary outcome was a positive screen for perinatal depression, noting that there were no secondary outcome measures.
Dr. Jacqueline Kiewa of the institution’s Child Health Research Center led this study, which found that about 70% of the women experienced perinatal depression. The women who experienced postnatal depression within six months after giving birth or during pregnancy would likely present with symptoms earlier and were also more likely to experience frequent, complex and serious depressive episodes.
Kiewa noted that these women were also more likely to not benefit from antidepressants and to suffer from psychiatric conditions such as ADHD. In addition, the study found that these women had a higher chance of experiencing vomiting and severe nausea during pregnancy.
In the report, Kiewa stated that these findings were concerning because perinatal depression was a primary cause of illness in women who had given birth in Australia and put children at risk of developing emotional and cognitive problems. She added that women with a history of trauma and Australian women of Indigenous and non-European ancestry also had higher chances of developing perinatal depression.
In addition to this, Kiewa noted that some characteristics the study identified suggested that environmental influences were the cause of perinatal depression, while others pointed to biological and genetic reasons that could be specific to pregnancy and women. This study, which has been called the Australian Genetics of Depression Study, was published in the “BMJ Open” journal.
Depression and other mental health issues are on the rise around the world, and this has driven companies such as Cybin Inc. (NYSE American: CYBN) (NEO: CYBN) to search for novel treatments to stem this growing tide of illnesses.
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