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Arch Womens Ment Health. 2018 Dec 15. doi: 10.1007/s00737-018-0926-y. [Epub ahead of print]

The maternal reward system in postpartum depression.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, 1835 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH, USA.
2
Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, 1835 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH, USA. leuner.1@osu.edu.
3
Department of Neuroscience, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH, USA. leuner.1@osu.edu.

Abstract

The experience of motherhood is most often emotionally positive and rewarding, but for many new mothers suffering from postpartum depression (PPD), this is not the case. Preclinical and clinical research has sought to uncover brain changes underlying PPD in order to gain a better understanding of how this disorder develops. This review focuses on the mesolimbic dopamine system, particularly the ventral tegmental area-nucleus accumbens pathway which has been implicated in the regulation of critical functions disrupted in PPD including mood, motivation, and mothering. Specifically, we discuss normative changes in the mesolimbic system during motherhood in both rodents and humans and how these are impacted in PPD. We also consider modulation of mesolimbic dopamine by the hypothalamic neuropeptide oxytocin and how oxytocin-dopamine interactions regulate mood and mothering during the postpartum period. In addition to providing an overview of reward mechanisms in PPD, our goal is to highlight open questions which warrant further research.

KEYWORDS:

Depression; Dopamine; Maternal; Mesolimbic; Nucleus accumbens; Oxytocin; Postpartum; Pregnancy; Striatum

PMID:
30554286
DOI:
10.1007/s00737-018-0926-y

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