Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Hormones and postnatal depression

Postnatal depression affects as many as 1 in 5 women four-six weeks after giving birth and 7% of new mothers suffer from major depression. A study of 100 women by researchers at the University of California, Irvine found that there was a link between high levels of a hormone called corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and postnatal depression. CRH is normally produced in tiny amounts by the hypothalamus in response to stress but pregnant women's placentas produce 100 times as much. The hormone is thought to prepare pregnant women for childbirth but the levels drop immediately afterwards and the 'withdrawal' symptoms can affect the endocrine system. 12 of the 16 women who had high levels of the hormone 25 weeks into their pregnancy went on to develop postnatal depression. The researchers hoped that a blood test for the hormone could be used to pick up women at risk of developing postnatal depression.

You can find out more about this research at


Bounty said...

Thanks for sharing this Post-natal depression can be a really awful thing, its good that awareness is being increased though. if you want a good place to other mums with the same condition there is a forum just fo PND here of luck to all women out there who have to go through this, we really must raise awarenss of this very important issue! xxx

John Gale said...

Thanks for your comment - I'm glad you found this post useful. I have friends at work who work on the Mother and Baby Unit (for mums with post-natal depression/psychosis) and it sounds like some people have a pretty rough time of it.
Keep up the good work!
Best Wishes,