Collaboration leads to Study Identifying Three Subtypes of Postpartum Depression

A recent article about international collaboration on Postpartum Depression (PPD) caught my eye for two reasons. It describes a study from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and it includes quotes by Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH.

Dr. Meltzer-Brody is director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program at the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders, and I had the privilege of meeting her in June when I was the banquet keynote speaker at the Postpartum Support International conference.

The study, which was published in the January 2015 issue of The Lancet Psychiatry, concluded that in treating PPD, “one size does not fit all,” and that this understanding could affect the diagnosis, treatment and importantly, the unraveling of the underlying biology of the illness.

Data from more than 10,000 women were considered and helped to identify three subtypes of PPD. They are: the timing of symptom onset (beginning during pregnancy or after birth), the severity of symptoms (including thoughts of suicide), a history of a previous mood disorder and whether or not a woman had medical complications during pregnancy or at childbirth.

One finding according to researchers is that “women who experienced symptoms during pregnancy may be at risk for more severe postpartum depression than those whose symptoms begin after birth.”

Along with my esteem for Dr. Melzer-Brody, I found the study especially compelling because it involved international collaboration by well-trained researchers. These experts were unified in their dedication to gaining more understanding about perinatal disorders and to unlocking some of the mysteries that make treating the illness so challenging.

This new international consortium is called PACT (Postpartum Depression: Action Towards Causes and Treatment), and it includes more than 25 investigators in seven countries. This diversity of its membership — including the departments of psychiatry and genetics — have likely helped to expand the focus to not only the symptoms of PPD, but also to it’s underlying biological and genetic components.

This type of collaboration of experts and different fields is impressive and exactly what may help to unlock the puzzle of perinatal depression and anxiety disorders. Now, I am eager to see how PACT’s findings will enable PPD specialists to improve our diagnosis and treatment of women who suffer from the disorder.


~ by ppdsus on January 26, 2015.

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