Olfactory study suggests postpartum depression is very different from major depressive disorder

Researchers at the University of Otago suggest that postpartum depression, a subtype of major depressive disorder, may in fact be a distinct condition, requiring its own separate research.

First publicized online in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers assessed 39 female parental figures with depression, examining their sense of smell.

“The present study addresses this research gap by assessing differences in olfactory abilities between 39 depressed mothers, who were within the perinatal period (i.e., during pregnancy and up to 1-year post-pregnancy) and assessed with Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, and their case-matched healthy volunteers,” the study reads.

“Our world-first study helps show the sensory symptoms related to postpartum depression are very different from those of major depression. Specifically, patients with postpartum depression show normal olfactory sensitivity whereas generic depressed patients would show substantially declined olfactory sensitivity,” the study also states.

“These findings imply that postpartum depression is associated with alterations in higher-order olfactory perception, but not early-processing of odors.”

The study was published online on July 22nd, 2021.

Image courtesy of Getty Images
More Stories
Study indicates white matter organization may be associated with better language skills in young children