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They Say: Post-Partum Depression Totally Predictable

post-partum-depression-predictablePost-partum depression affects around 13 percent of all women who have given birth. But often it doesn’t show up until two or three months after birth. That’s well past the final six-week check-up, which means a possibly depressed woman wouldn’t be seen by a doctor until she has already been broadsided by depression.

What would help is if PPD could be predicted. Spanish researchers think they’ve found a way to anticipate nearly 80 percent of all cases — 80 PERCENT! That’s huge.

The model they developed diagnoses a likelihood for PPD even before a mother shows symptoms. From Science Daily:

The researchers used artificial neuronal networks and extracted a series of risk factors highlighted in previous studies — the extent of social support for the mother, prior psychiatric problems in the family, emotional changes during the birth, neuroticism and polymorphisms in the serotonin transport gene (genes with high levels of expression lead to an increased risk of developing the illness).

They also discovered two protection factors that reduce the risk of depression — age (the older the woman the lower her chance of depression), and whether or not a woman has worked during pregnancy (which reduces the risk).

These risk factors and physical realities are plugged into the model and, voila!, a woman is deemed at-risk.

Of course, I would find it irritating (not to mention a real buzz kill) to be hanging with  my newborn and having to listen to a social worker tell me I’m at risk. Still, until we take the baby blues more seriously, I’d be willing to listen.

Did you suffer from PPD? How were you diagnosed? When were you diagnosed? What do you think about someone telling you you might — MIGHT — suffer PPD?

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Photo: Science Daily

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