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(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Persistent fatigue may be the first indication a new mother might develop postpartum depression, according to a new study from The Ohio State University in Columbus.

Researchers say women feeling extremely fatigued two weeks after giving birth are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression a month later. "All mothers are tired right after having a baby. It helps them get the rest they need to recover and heal from the physical and mental stressors of childbirth," says Elizabeth Corwin, the study's lead author and an associate professor of nursing at Ohio State University. "But for most women," she continues, "fatigue steadily fades within the first two weeks of giving birth."

For the study, Corwin and her colleagues asked 31 recent mothers who had carried their babies to full term and delivered vaginally without complications to complete questionnaires on fatigue, stress and both symptoms and history of depression. Researchers also collected samples of each woman's saliva to measurer levels of cortisol -- a hormone related to stress.

Researchers found it was fatigue rather than stress or a history of depression that was the best indicator of which women went on to develop postpartum depression. The study revealed, of the 31 women, 11 had symptoms of depression, seven had a history of depression in their family, and four had a personal history of depression.

Researchers say this study shows, while personal history of depression is still a valid factor in predicting postpartum depression, it should not be the only thing considered.

"One of the problems with postpartum depression is that women usually aren't diagnosed until the disease is already established," Corwin says. "If a woman's health care provider knew early on that a patient was slipping down this slope, he or she could intervene. It may not take much to screen for it, either. The questions in the fatigue test that we used took about two to three minutes to answer."

 

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