The Association Between Maternal Childhood Abuse And The Hpa Axis And Its Prevalence In Postpartum Depression.

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The association between maternal childhood abuse and the HPA axis and its prevalence in Postpartum Depression.

Approximately 13% of women experience Postpartum Depression. The causes of Postpartum Depression are not entirely understood but can be attributed to changes in brain chemistry and structure. Early life trauma has been associatedwith aberrations in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis of a female experiencing Postpartum Depression. This research paper will focus specifically on the brain structures of Postpartum females experiencing Postpartum depression who have gone through periods of domestic trauma earlier in their lives. I will focus on the biological alterations of the brain, specifically the deregulation ofthe HPA-axis, in respect to the maternal brain after previous periods of domestic abuse.

The association between maternal childhood abuse and the HPA axis and its prevalence in Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum Depression is a form of clinical depression affecting approximately 13% of women in the first few months following childbirth. Episodes ofdepression and anxiety are common in the months of pregnancy and postpartum. Many of the conflicting emotions felt during and shortly after a pregnancy can be attributed to the constant influx and decreases in hormones in a women’s body during her pregnancy. Hormonal changes may trigger symptoms of Postpartum depression, and stress is known to ameliorate these symptoms. A woman who has beenexposed to chronic stress her entire life, or a period of intense stress prenatally has become biologically predisposed to the affects of postpartum depression. The chronic nature of domestic violence has been linked to abnormalities in the brain regions affected by Postpartum Depression and has been known to biologically change the neurological response to dealing with stress.
From the moment ofconception the female body begins a long cycle of hormonal changes in preparation for the birth of a child. The body naturally goes through a cycle of hormonal changes with the hormones estrogen, progesterone, prolactin and oxcitocine. Estrogen and Progesterone are produced by the ovaries and placenta respectively. Right before birth estrogen levels increase and progesterone levels decreasedrastically. Prolactin is produced by the pituitary gland and oxcitocine is synthesized by the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. Both of these hormone levels increase right before child birth.
Dramatic changes also occur to the HPA system during the transition from pregnancy to postpartum. The HPA axis, Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is a system of complex feedback interactions between thehypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal gland. It is a major part of the neuroendocrine system responsible primarily for the regulation of stress. During the span of a pregnancy and the months following a pregnancy the HPA works to regulate its hormonal components, ACTH and Cortisol.
In postpartum mothers without a history of depression a pattern is found between the two hormones ACTH andCortisol. In a healthy HPA axis the hypothalamus releases a corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH) from the paraventricular nucleus in the hypothalamus. The paraventricular nucleus is responsible for releasing oxytocin and vasopressin in the pituitary gland which acts on the adrenal cortices which produce cortisol. This hormone initiates the release of the ACTH from the anterior pituitary glandand cortisol from the adrenal cortex. Once enough oxytocin and vasopression are received the ACTH and cortisol are signaled to shut off further production. The hormones in this system are regulated by a negative feedback loop amongst the receptors of its regions.
The rise and fall of the ACTH and cortisol occur in a type of measurable circadian observed in all healthy post partum women....
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