Could longer, darker days be a trigger for postpartum depression? Yes, according to the results of a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Women who give birth in the fall and winter months are more prone to experience severe baby blues.
A group in Sweden at Uppsala University asserts that the amount of daylight in the seasons affect chemical pathways in the brain that are related to depression.
More than 2,000 women who gave birth over a 1-year period were studied, and out of every 100 mothers, between 6 and 15 reportedly complained of postpartum depression symptoms according to the amount of time that had passed since they gave birth and the season in which they did it.
Taking into account a variety of factors and stress incurred by new mothers, the study authors found that giving birth between October and December meant women were twice as likely to experience postpartum depressions after 6 weeks and 6 months compared to women who gave birth between April and June.
“We guess that some hormones could differ during the year,” which could be related to depression risks, one of the researchers told Reuters Health.
The study also considered Seasonal Affective Disorder as well as women who live in countries closer to the equator and therefore experience less drastic changes in daylight throughout the year.
The researchers also found that the effects of season on postpartum depression were most noticeable in women with no physical or mental illnesses before giving birth.
Authors of the study are hopeful that there now exists enough evidence that doctors who treat new mothers in countries with large variations in sunlight during the year will be aware and respond accordingly.
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