It is common for women to experience what has been referred to as the “baby blues” shortly after giving birth. They may feel stressed, sad, lonely, tired, or anxious. Postpartum depression, however, is a much more serious mood disorder. Researchers have created an app that they hope will help them learn more about the genetic basis of postpartum depression.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina have created a app called PPD ACT. It is currently available in Australia and in the United States, and is coming soon to the UK. The researchers are university-based clinicians and scientists who are dedicated to studying postpartum depression and psychosis.
The goal of the research study is to understand more about the genetic basis of postpartum depression and psychosis. The hope is that they can one day prevent postpartum disorders from happening in the first place. The knowledge they glean from the app will help the researchers figure out the causes, and develop new treatments for, postpartum depression and psychosis.
The American Psychological Association (APA) describes postpartum depression as a serious mood disorder. Postpartum depression (PPD) does not go away on its own. It can appear days or even months after a woman gives birth to a baby. The symptoms of PPD can last for weeks or months if left untreated.
The APA also points out that PPD can affect any woman. Up to one in seven women experience PPD. For about half of the women who are diagnosed with PPD, it is their first episode of depression. Postpartum psychosis is more rare than PPD.
The PPD ACT app is free and available for iPhone. The app will ask users a series of questions about anxiety and sadness after pregnancy in order to assess postpartum depression.
Women with high scores will be asked if they would like to submit a DNA sample to researchers at the University of North Carolina. The women who want to contribute their DNA to the study will be mailed a DNA test kit that they can use to send the researchers a saliva sample.
The personal information attached to each sample will be encrypted in order to preserve privacy. The samples will be individually genotyped for something like 600,000 genetic markers scattered throughout the genome. Those samples will be compared to data taken from women who have had two pregnancies but have not experienced postpartum depression.
It is difficult to predict whether or not the researchers will find a genetic link that corresponds to a risk of developing postpartum disorder. Not much research has been done on it, so there is a chance that the researchers could learn something useful from the PPD ACT.< Return To Blog