Studies on Oxytocin Receptors in the Brain can Help Develop Drugs for Postpartum Depression

10 to 20% of women experience postpartum depression. Now a new study may have found a way to formulate treatments and drugs to fight this disorder.

Researchers at the LSU Department of Biological Sciences have identified Oxytocin, a type of love hormone, as the key to unlocking the cure for postpartum depression. The lead researcher and associate professor, Ryoichi Teruyama said, “Many researchers have attempted to investigate the difference between the oxytocin system in females versus males, but no one has successfully found conclusive evidence until now. Our discovery was a big surprise”.

Oxytocin is responsible for social and maternal behavior, which has been found to treat people suffering from mental disorders. Oxytocin is present in the brain area and informs maternal behavior, oxytocin works in tandem with the presence of only oestrogen. Therefore, oestrogen is necessary for oxytocin to affect. The study reveals that there is a definite connection between changed expression of oxytocin and postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression has adverse effects on both the mother and the child, some of its effects are far reaching and prolonged. An untreated and neglected state can result into harmful implications for the child. Research shows, children of depressed mothers, develop cognitive and mental issues themselves. This new discovery opens doors to potential new treatments and drugs for postpartum depression targeting oxytocin receptor cells. “I think our discovery could be universal to all mammals that exhibit maternal behaviour, including humans,” Teruyama said.

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