The neurobiological mechanisms to explain postpartum blues and the high risk for the onset of postpartum depression in the first few weeks after delivery are unclear. Estrogen levels drop 100- to 1000-fold during the first 3 to 4 days postpartum, and changes in estrogen levels have an inverse relationship with monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) density. However, MAO-A levels have never been measured in the early postpartum period... Rather than a purely psychosocial model, we propose a neurobiological model of estrogen decline, followed by elevated MAO-A binding,low mood, and subsequently a period of high risk for major depressive episodes. Our model has important implications for preventing postpartum depression and for developing therapeutic strategiesthat target or compensate for elevated MAO-A levels during postpartum blues.
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