Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pregnancy-related depression linked to eating disorders and abuse histories

Date:
June 16, 2011
Source:
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Summary:
Having a history of eating disorders or abuse may increase a woman's risk for developing depression during and after pregnancy, according to new research. The finding could influence how doctors screen patients during prenatal visits.

One in 10 women experience depression during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth. Although the problem has received increased attention in recent years, little is known about the causes or early-warning signs of pregnancy-related depression. In a study published in the June 2011 issue of Journal of Women's Health, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine offer new clues to help doctors identify at-risk patients and refer them to treatment early on.

The researchers surveyed 158 pregnant and postpartum women undergoing treatment for depression at UNC's Perinatal Psychiatry Clinic. One-third of the patients reported a history of eating disorders; in addition, many had a history of physical or sexual abuse. The findings suggest these psychiatric factors may increase a woman's likelihood of developing depression during pregnancy or postpartum.

Mental health screening tools that include questions about eating disorders, abuse and other factors should be incorporated into routine prenatal care, said Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, the lead author of the study and director of UNC's Perinatal Psychiatry Program. "Screening by obstetrical providers is really important because they can refer patients for appropriate treatment," she said. "And that can prevent long-lasting problems for mom and baby."

Undiagnosed and treated postpartum depression "causes enormous distress to the family, and it can have long-lasting consequences for the child," said Meltzer-Brody. Children of depressed mothers are more likely to develop mental health problems, and children of mothers with an active eating disorder may also be more likely to develop an eating disorder themselves. Making sure mothers struggling with mental health issues receive adequate assessment and treatment is critical to breaking that cycle, said Meltzer-Brody.

"The message we need to get out is that these things are incredibly common and routine screenings need to occur," said Meltzer-Brody. "The prevalence of abuse and eating disorder histories may be much higher than people appreciate."

Up to 25 percent of women experience physical or sexual abuse during their lifetime, a rate the UNC associate professor of psychiatry called "staggering." An estimated 6-8 percent of women are at some point affected by an eating disorder, with binge eating and bulimia nervosa being the most common, followed by anorexia and other disorders.

"Pregnancy and the postpartum period is a very vulnerable time for women," said Meltzer-Brody. Rapid changes in body shape, weight and hormone levels, combined with major lifestyle changes during the transition to motherhood, can take a toll on women -- especially those with a history of previous psychiatric issues.

Despite these challenges, Meltzer-Brody said pregnancy represents an ideal time for doctors to intervene and help women get mental health treatment if they need it. "[Pregnancy] is a time when people are really motivated to make changes and get treatment, because that can have serious consequences for how you do and for how your children do," she said, adding that by conducting mental health screens during prenatal care, doctors can help curb pregnancy-related depression.

The study's co-authors included Stephanie Zerwas, PhD, Jane Leserman, PhD, Ann Von Holle, Taylor Regis, and Cynthia Bulik, PhD, all from the Department of Psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine, UNC Center for Women's Mood Disorders and UNC Eating Disorders Program.

Support for the research came from the NIH Building Interdisciplinary Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH) Award to Dr. Meltzer-Brody.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, Stephanie Zerwas, Jane Leserman, Ann Von Holle, Taylor Regis, Cynthia Bulik. Eating Disorders and Trauma History in Women with Perinatal Depression. Journal of Women's Health, 2011; 20 (6): 863 DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2360

Cite This Page:

University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Pregnancy-related depression linked to eating disorders and abuse histories." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110616103033.htm>.
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. (2011, June 16). Pregnancy-related depression linked to eating disorders and abuse histories. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110616103033.htm
University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "Pregnancy-related depression linked to eating disorders and abuse histories." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110616103033.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins