How Depression Can Change a Mom's Oxytocin

Posted on March 23, 2016

Photo: flickr

Widely referred to as the "love" hormone, oxytocin is an indispensable part of childbirth and emotional mother-child bonding. Psychologists at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) are conducting a novel study to determine how a mother's levels of oxytocin might be different in women with depression.

"We already know that pregnancy escalates oxytocin levels and that breastfeeding releases oxytocin, which have anti-depressive effects," said Nancy Aaron Jones, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. "In this new study, we are looking at oxytocin levels in pre- and postpartum mothers who suffer from depression to see how they differ from mothers who don't have depression."

"We are really trying to understand how these varying levels of oxytocin affect the mother-infant emotional relationship as well as the baby's emotional development and their emotional bond with their mother," said Jones.

"If depression in mothers-to-be is not addressed and treated, these mood disorders can negatively impact the child's well-being and the important mother-child bonding process," said Jones. "So many women don't want to talk about depression in pregnancy or postpartum because they think that it's saying something about their inability to parent, and it's not. There are a lot of factors that are contributing to mental health including hormonal, cultural or just the stress that's associated with being a parent. And all of these things can be helped."

Category(s):Depression, Parenting

Source material from Florida Atlantic University