Monthly Archives: April 2015

Anxiety During Pregnancy: Options for Treatment

Anxiety symptoms are relatively common during pregnancy but typically undiagnosed and undertreated.  A recent study of 2793 women observed that 9.5% of women meet criteria for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) at some point during their pregnancy.  The highest rates of GAD were observed in the first trimester (7%). Only 2% of women met criteria for GAD in the second trimester, and 3% in the third trimester.

For Many Mothers Postpartum Depression Persists Over Many Years

While we have observed in multiple studies that about 15% of women suffer from depression during pregnancy and the postpartum period, we know much less about the course of depressive illness in this patient population..  Clinically we observe that many women recover relatively quickly, while others have a much more persistent course of illness.

Meta-Analysis:  Acupuncture Effective for Menopausal Vasomotor Symptoms

Over the last decade, various studies have evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of menopausal vasomotor symptoms.  In a recent meta-analysis, studies that reported on the frequency or severity of hot flashes, menopause-related symptoms assessed using the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS), and quality of life (QoL) assessed using the Menopause-Specific Quality of Life (MSQoL) questionnaire were included.  Twelve studies with a total of 869 participants met the inclusion criteria and were included in the final analysis.

How Does Mother’s Depression Affect the Fetal Brain? Look at the Amygdala

It is now widely accepted that there is an increased risk for depression among the children of mothers who suffer from depression.  Exactly how this vulnerability to depression is transmitted to the child is not precisely understood and is undoubtedly quite complicated.  Genetic factors clearly play an important role, but there are other important factors which contribute to the transgenerational transmission of depression.  For example, many studies have shown that maternal depression may contribute to parenting styles which increase a child’s likelihood of developing depression later on.

Postpartum Depression and Cigarette Smoking

A recent study examines the relationship between postpartum depression (PPD) and cigarette smoking.  The study sample consisted of 29,654 U.S. women who reported smoking in the 3 months prior to pregnancy and for whom data on PPD were available from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS).

Parental Age and Risk of ADHD in Children

Many studies have examined the association between parental age and psychiatric illness in the children, including autism and schizophrenia.  In a recent case-control study from Finland, the authors identified 10,409 individuals with ADHD born between 1991 and 2005 from nationwide population-based registers.  Logistic regression was used to examine the association between parental age and ADHD in the offspring, adjusting for potential confounding factors including parental psychiatric history, maternal socioeconomic status, marital status, maternal smoking during pregnancy, number of previous births, and birth weight.

Maternal Depression Leads to Risky Behaviors in Adolescent Children

Maternal depression has been identified as a risk factor for adolescent depression.  In addition, maternal depression appears to increase the risk of certain behavioral problems in children; however, it appears that the timing of exposure may play an important role in mediating the effects of maternal depression.  A recent study suggests that childhood exposure to maternal depression between the ages of 4 and 14 may result in risky behaviors later on during adolescence.

Intergenerational Transmission of Depression: Telomere Shortening and Cortisol Reactivity in Girls at High Risk for Depression

In every cell, genetic material is contained within the double-stranded molecules of DNA called chromosomes. Every time a cell divides, the chromosomes are copied so that each new cell gets a copy of this genetic material.  However, the process isn’t perfect – a little bit of the end of the chromosome is lost each time so the copy is not a perfect reproduction. To prevent important genetic material from being lost, the cell protects itself with structures called telomeres located at the ends of the chromosomes. Telomeres are repeating DNA sequences and proteins that act like a guard so that when the chromosome is copied, the important material is protected and only the telomere is shortened. Since telomere shortening happens every time the cell divides, telomeres act like biological clocks for the cell. When the chromosome has been copied enough times that the telomere has been completely worn away, any future copies of the chromosome may be missing important genetic material and the cell may cease to function normally.