Can asthma cause postpartum depression?
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases that can complicate pregnancy. It can put women at increased risk of pregnancy outcomes.
Postpartum depression is a nonpsychotic depressive episode that begins after delivery, most occur 1 to 3 months after delivery, but its onset may occur as late as 12 months after delivery. It is one of the most common psychological problems in women. Postpartum depression is associated with impaired cognitive and emotional development of the infant and the long term consequences can be substantial.
A recent study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, titled Risk of Postpartum Depression Among Women with Asthma, compared the risk of postpartum depression between women with asthma and those without asthma during pregnancy.
The results found that women with asthma were 58% more likely to experience postpartum depression within 1 year after delivery than women without asthma during pregnancy.
Several hypotheses were made to help explain the link between asthma and depression.
- A link with an early exposure to stress leading to a steroid resistance, which causes disturbances to the immune system through several pathways. These deregulations induce inflammation, which has been associated with both asthma and depression.
- The second hypothesis involves proinflammatory circulating cytokines. These cytokines disturb the hypothalmic-pituitary-adrenal system, affecting the immune system. They also regulate inflammatory responses through pathways that may be involved in asthma and depression.
- It is possible that new mothers with asthma may have experienced increased feelings of anxiety and helplessness due to the potential negative consequences of having a chronic, life-threatening disease. It is also possible that mothers with asthma may have experienced greater stress during the post-partum period due to the added strain of managing a chronic disease as well as looking after the infant.
- Others have described the link between depression and autoimmune disorders, with inflammation being associated with behavioral changes such as depression.
A close monitoring of signs of depression for pregnant women with asthma is indicated, allowing prompt and efficient interventions if needed.