Chronic Stress Causes Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

By Phineas Upham

A recent study published in Hormones and Behavior reveals that rat females exposed to chronic stress experienced depressed maternal care, increased anxiety, and impaired lactation, e Science News reports. What’s more, the study reveals that the second-generation females, pups of the mothers exposed to chronic stress, also experienced the same symptoms when they had pups.

For an hour a day for 15 days, researchers placed a different male rat in the cage with the mothers and their pups. In addition to experiencing the aforementioned symptoms, the mothers also displayed changes in their hormone levels. The females exposed to stress had an increase in corticosterone (the stress hormone) and decreases in oxytocin, prolactin, and estradiol.

“The endocrine and behavioral data are consistent with what has been reported in studies of depressed human mothers. The potential with this animal model is that it can be used to study new preventive measures and treatments for postpartum depression and anxiety, and the adverse effects of these disorders on offspring,” Benjamin C. Nephew, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study, told the paper.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

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Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.