A new study finds that certain parts of the brain in women with post-partum depression react less to images of scared or angry faces.
The study was conducted by researchers at The University of Pittsburgh. It’s in this month’s issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry.
A group of depressed and non-depressed post-partum mothers had their brains scanned while they viewed pictures of fearful and threatening faces. The depressed mothers were deficient in responding to the faces. Reseachers say this means that those mothers were not as aware of feelings and intentions in others, particularly their babies.
Researchers also found a reduction in brain activity associated with the maternal attachment process.
Their hope is to greater understand the causes of post-partum depression. Dr. Eydie Moses- Kelko at Pitt is the lead author on the study.
"It's possible that ppd is a subtype of depression that has a different brain mechanism and we sought out to try to understand this but we certainly need to study this in greater depth to know for sure whether there are differences," she said.
Fifteen percent of new mothers experience post-partum depression.