An immune reaction in the brains of stressed mothers can help explain cases of postpartum depression, suggests a study.
New evidence of animal studies linked postpartum depression with inflammation in the brain's brain regulatory areas.
Scientists believe that the results can help them solve the mystery of the anguished condition, which is still misunderstood.
It is estimated that 15% of new mothers experience postpartum depression – also known as postpartum depression – after delivery.
Having postnatal depression can prevent the mother's union with her baby and cause feelings of overwhelming fatigue and helplessness.
Dr. Benedetta Leuner, from Ohio State University of the United States, who directed the new study, said: "Gaining a better understanding of the factors that contribute to this serious and prevalent disorder will be essential to finding ways to better assist struggling women."
Research focused on the medial prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain that regulates the mood previously demonstrated by being related to postpartum depression.
In the first place, rats were stressed during pregnancy to imitate a known risk factor for the disease.
After delivery, the animals showed signs of depression similar to those observed in humans, including less attention to their children.
Scientists have found that, unlike stressed rats, stressed rats have raised levels of inflammatory biomarkers in their brains.
There was also evidence that linked stress to changes in the functioning of brain immune cells called microglia.
Co-author Dr. Kathryn Lenz, also from the state of Ohio, said: "It was particularly interesting that we did not find evidence of increased inflammation in the blood, but we found it in this area of the brain that is important for regulating mood.
"We are really excited because it suggests that inflammation in the brain may be a potential contributor to postpartum depression."
The results were presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Neuroscience in San Diego.– Press Association