Mums Who Give Birth to Boys Are More Likely to Experience Postnatal Depression

Mums Who Give Birth to Boys Are More Likely to Experience Postnatal Depression

Being mum to a boy has been linked to higher odds of postnatal depression.

This worried woman needs help
 

Researchers from the University of Kent surveyed almost 300 women about their reproductive and mental health histories and found the odds of developing postnatal depression increased 79 percent after giving birth to a boy, compared to giving birth to a girl.

Postnatal depression — aka postpartum depression — is the name given to major depressive disorder that begins in the weeks or months following birth.

ALSO READ: Hot Baths Could Improve Depression As Much As Physical Exercise

There’s an intriguing reason for having a boy might increase the odds of the condition.

Other research has linked depression, and particularly postnatal depression, to an immune response in the body called inflammation. Carrying a male foetus increases inflammation more than carrying a female foetus — the mechanisms for this are unclear (and complicated) but are likely to be down to the clash between the mother’s female cells and her son’s male ones.

According to Metro, here are some symptoms of postnatal depression.

Symptoms of postnatal depression:

  • A  persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
  • loss of interest in the world around you and no longer enjoying things that used to give you pleasure
  • lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
  • feeling that you’re unable to look after your baby problems concentrating and making decisions
  • loss of appetite or an increased appetite (comfort eating) feeling agitated, irritable or very apathetic (you “can’t be bothered”)
  • feelings of guilt, hopelessness and self-blame
  • difficulty bonding with your baby with a feeling of indifference and no sense of enjoyment in his or her company
  • frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby; these can be scary, but they’re very rarely acted upon
  • thinking about suicide and self-harm

 

ALSO READ: The Genetics of depression are different for Men and Women 

 

The study, published in the journal  Social Science and Medicine,  also found that women whose births had complications were 174 percent more likely to experience postnatal depression than women with no complications.

Postnatal depression is thought to impact up to one in seven mothers, but often goes undiagnosed — so the researchers say their investigation reveals two factors that may help to identify at-risk mothers.

“The finding that having a baby boy or a difficult birth increases a woman’s risk gives health practitioners two new and easy ways to identify women who would particularly benefit from additional support in the first few weeks and months,” said study co-author Dr Sarah Johns in a statement.

ALSO READ: Just one hour of exercise a week may help prevent depression

That support can make a difference. The study found that women with symptoms of depression, anxiety or stress have a higher risk of postnatal depression — but that they are also more likely to seek and receive support after birth.

“Postnatal depression is a condition that is avoidable, and it has been shown that giving women at risk extra help and support can make it less likely to develop,” Johns concluded.

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