Study links postnatal depression with women who have given birth to boys

According to the NHS, one in 10 women suffer postnatal depression [Photo: Getty]

Postnatal depression (PND) affects one in every 10 women across the UK but, according to new research, there’s an increased risk of developing the condition if you have a baby boy.

A recent study conducted by the University of Kent has discovered that the chances of mothers being diagnosed with postnatal depression is increased by 79% after welcoming a son.

In addition to this, women who experience complications during labour are 174% more likely to experience PND in comparison to those who do not.

Interestingly, the research team also found that mothers who have experienced stress, depression and/or anxiety in the past are less likely to experience postnatal depression after birth complications.

According to the study – which used the reproductive histories of 296 mothers – this is because these women are likely to have received more post-birth support due to their mental health concerns being previously recognised.

New research suggests that women who give birth to baby boys are more likely to develop postnatal depression [Photo: Getty]
New research suggests that women who give birth to baby boys are more likely to develop postnatal depression [Photo: Getty]

As a result of their findings, Dr Sarah Johns and Dr Sarah Myers conclude that both baby boys and birth complications should now be considered postnatal depression risk factors by health professionals.

“PND is a condition that is avoidable, and it has been shown that giving women at risk extra help and support can make it less likely to develop,” Dr Sarah Johns said.

“The finding that having a baby boy or a difficult birth increases a woman’s risk gives health practitioners two new and easy ways to identify women who would particularly benefit from additional support in the first few weeks and months.”

What are the symptoms of postnatal depression?

According to the NHS, the following symptoms may indicate postnatal depression. They are likely to develop within the first year of giving birth.

  • A persistent feeling of sadness or a low mood

  • Lack of enjoyment and loss of interest

  • Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time

  • Difficulty sleeping at night and feeling tired during the day

  • Difficulty bonding with your baby

  • Withdrawing from contact with other people

  • Problems concentrating and making decisions

  • Frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby

Where to seek help for postnatal depression

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with your local GP. You may be recommended cognitive behavioural therapy or antidepressants to help combat the condition.

There are also a number of organisations designed to support parents suffering from the condition such as the Association for Post Natal Illness and Pre and Postnatal Depression Advice and Support.

Unlike the ‘baby blues’, postnatal depression can last for months if left untreated and both men and women can suffer from the condition.

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