The Neurobiological Mechanisms of Postpartum Depression: The Role of Oxytocin in the Hypothalamus and Amygdala
Haverford College. Department of Psychology
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Although postpartum depression has a prevalence of approximately 15% and can result in negative outcomes for both the mother and her child, its underlying neurobiological mechanisms remain mostly unknown. Previous research suggests that ovarian hormone fluctuations that occur during the postpartum period could underlie depressive symptoms in postpartum depression. Studies have also suggested that changes in oxytocin signaling could also play a role in the etiology of this disorder. The present study adapts the ovarian withdrawal model of postpartum depression to a Syrian hamster animal model in order to study the neurobiological mechanisms of postpartum depression. Its aim is to test whether hormone withdrawal during the postpartum period results in changes in oxytocin signaling between the paraventricular nucleus and the medial amygdala. It is hypothesized that these neurobiological changes could be implicated in depressive-like behavior during the postpartum period.