Postpartum Depression: What a Postpartum Brain Scan Says About It


Postpartum depression affects many women’s life after giving birth to the long-awaited son or daughter. It is an issue that has led the enthusiasts to dig deeper into the depression causes and what the mother feels during the period.

In 2008, a survey was conducted in Yale University to find out how many women are affected and what happens in their brains.

The results placed 85% of the women under the vulnerability of getting postpartum depression after giving birth. Whether diagnosed or not, women can have various disturbing images and thoughts not forgetting the ‘baby blues’ that bring irritation and sadness.

An extensive form of this condition accompanies 15% of new parents, and it can become persistent and intrusive over time giving rise to extreme cases. If you are imagining horrifying scenarios relating to your newborn and then suffer enormous guilt after, then it is time you took a depression quiz to determine how you feel before discussing it with a physician.

Before taking the quiz, you need to know how the brain functions when under depression after birth.

Postpartum Depression Findings after a Brain Scan

a Postpartum Brain Scan

Yale University researchers performed a recommendable study about those new in parenthood. They utilized an fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to track how blood flows and the associated patterns of brain activity when the neurons are activated by a baby’s cry.

Earlier studies involved scanning of the brains when the parents in question saw their baby pictures. The motive was to find out which areas of the brain had a positive mood and preference. The Yale survey, on the other hand, observed closely the neural networks and how OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) related to the brain activity.

Also under scrutiny was the areas of the brain that showed empathy among other social emotions. The study brought striking results of in-depth neural responses triggered by the baby’s sound, and it happened even in parents with no medical diagnosis of postpartum depression.

What Is OCD?

postpartum depression

It is associated with psychiatry and characterized by significant obsessions and resultant compulsions. Patients suffering from OCD are extensively anxious, and they respond to it with ritual behavior to counter the distress which could be praying, washing hands frequently or regularly going to check on your baby.

The researchers gave something that revolutionized to absolute knowledge of the brain activity when suffering from this psychological problem. They believe that after delivering the baby, high alertness may have aided the parents in protecting their babies from threats in the environment.

The more careful ones with their baby improved the chances of baby survival hence passing on OCD – a suggestion made by psychiatrists and neuroscientists who worked on the project.

It Is a Normality That Goes To Abnormal

Other concurrent researchers show that there is a tolerable level of anxiety and distress after receiving a newborn. Reports indicate that 30% of parents experienced disturbing thoughts of harming the baby themselves. When the delivery period nears, 80% of fathers and 95% of their partners showed signs of an OCD.

The healthy population confirms mild cases only that are not recurrent. The hypothesis from Yale University dictated that a healthy brain in maternity can be cornered by a ‘transient OCD’ period.

However, once it comes to this kind of thinking, there is a threat of joining the OCD condition with irrational things that do not support survival. That is why specific behaviors can go beyond a useful point – a recording made by the researching board in their statement.

It is essential for the mother to respond to their kids emotionally, but too much parental preoccupation as a start could bring problems. Some mothers will feel numb emotionally and will not take care of the baby.

Other cases show emotionally charged mothers being unable to prevent the impulses brought by the concern for baby care. For many moms, the feelings of anxiety and depression collide.

Even though parents can adapt to slight OCD, an extreme or lacking scenario of the obsession can play a significant role in the progress of postpartum depression.

Genes and Hormones Related To Depression

Postpartum Depression

Findings also uncovered on the biological conditions that are involved in parental care and depression. There is a link between postpartum depression and genetic factors. There are already ten genes that relate to how a parent behaves.

The study was carried out on rodents where removal of those genes resulted in the animals ignoring their young ones or losing the urge to defend them. In humans, however, the issue was the genetic variations which affected maternal response and behavior.

Hormonal levels also play a part after delivery, and the effect is more present to the vulnerable victims. An imbalance of the hormones causes deep emotions and stressful periods after birth.

The distress can increase the heartbeat and intensify the concentration but with lack of hormones to bring the psychological effect down to sober levels gives in to an eternal stage of heightened arousal.

Social Factors Causing Postpartum Depression

There are outside factors that may prolong distress and depression. The most intruding social factor that aggravates the postpartum condition is continued lack of sleep. Since it happens every day, the process of contraction is gradual and not abrupt. Mothers are more than happy after giving birth but with successive nights without sleep will make them more depressed.

Breaking The Postpartum Depression Silence

Postpartum Depression


More in-depth research to the roots of postpartum depression may help in wiping out the social stigma and negligence surrounding distress after receiving a baby.  A combination of reports on the existence and continuance of depression Yale university findings show that mothers encounter sadness in the course of enjoying the fulfillment of having a baby.

[Relevance:  Dealing With Postpartum Depression]

There is a fine line between healthy and regular brain changes and more disruptive thoughts. That is why the reports pave the way for public discussions that focus on women with problems related to early parenting, especially for the first-timers. Most of what happens is praising the joy of having a child and not addressing the challenges that come with it. This misinterpretation leaves some women alone to think that they are bad mothers and since no one wants to talk about it, fear and rage can burst out.

The Relief of Postpartum Depression

The research results are in a position to open up help for new parents so that they realize that it is a normal condition that does not make them imperfect. Since every mother and father is vulnerable to postpartum depression after receiving their first kid, those afraid of speaking up will have a channel to air what they feel. It will serve as an encouragement to the rest.

Read More:

  1. Medical and Natural Treatment of PPD
  2. 12 Ways to Prevent Postpartum Depression
  3. Latest Statistics of PPD Occurrence  Rate


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