The Link Between the HPA Axis and Major Depressive Episodes

In a study out of Brazil, researchers evaluated the relationship between the functioning of the hypothalamaic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and major depressive episodes in the remote postpartum period. The participants were women between 23 and 33 years old about six months following birth that fell into certain groups. These consisted of depressed postpartum women, euthymic postpartum women, or non-postpartum healthy women. Saliva samples were collected four times a day to gather data for the study.

The researchers found some interesting results. “Our findings suggest that the remote postpartum period involves attenuation of HPA axis reactivity; this dysregulation is more pronounced in the presence of DPP, which is associated with a reduction in cortisol diurnal variation. Abnormalities in the neuroendocrine system related to stress processing, present even several months after delivery, can represent vulnerability to mental disorders.

For more information, read the full study.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26773916

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