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New UNC Study Finds Genetic Link For Postpartum Depression

Source: News & Observer 

Postpartum depression (PPD) can be inherited, according to a new research study from the UNC School of Medicine that analyzed data from tens of thousands of women.

The study, which is the largest genomic analysis to date on this issue, confirms findings from previous smaller studies. Researchers believe PPD is likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including sleep deprivation and anxiety from caring for a newborn.

Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, an author of the paper and chair of psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine, said screening for a family history of postpartum depression could help physicians identify which patients are at a greater risk for onset of the disorder.

“Right now, in many clinical settings, we do not obtain this type of psychiatric history,” Meltzer-Brody told the News and Observer. “We should be taking a much more proactive stance with anyone who has a history.”

Postpartum depression is the most common pregnancy complication, affecting roughly 15 percent of women who give birth. There are treatment options, including medication like Brexanolone, the first medication prescribed specifically for postpartum depression.

The UNC study also showed that the genetic markers associated with PPD overlap with the genetic markers of clinical depression in general.

“This could help sort of figure out what is potentially causing the onset of general depression,” said Jerry Guintivano, a UNC faculty member and lead author of the paper.

If you think you are struggling with symptoms of postpartum depression, please see your healthcare provider immediately, as they can help provide you with counseling, support groups, and medication. For more information and resources, see here


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