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Maternal Depression May Affect Child’s Brain Development at Critical Stages in Life

Women with higher depressive symptoms tended to have children with thinner frontal and temporal areas

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Toronto, November 16, 2016: Depressive symptoms in women during and after pregnancy are linked to reduced thickness of the cortex — the outer layer of the brain responsible for complex thought and behaviour — in preschool-age kids, says a new study.

“Our findings underscore the importance of monitoring and supporting mental health in mothers not just in the post-partum period, but also during pregnancy,” said lead researcher Catherine Lebel of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

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The findings, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, suggest that a mother’s mood may affect her child’s brain development at critical stages in life.

Eighteen percent of women experience depression some time during pregnancy, and both peri-natal and post-partum depression have been associated with negative outcomes in children.

But the associations between maternal depression and abnormal brain structure in kids at this age was not known.

For the study, the researchers screened 52 women for depressive symptoms during each trimester of pregnancy and a few months after the child was born.

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The women ranged in the presence of symptoms, some with no or few symptoms, and some meeting the screening criteria for depression.

When the children reached about 2.5 to 5 years of age, the researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure their brain structure.

Women with higher depressive symptoms tended to have children with thinner frontal and temporal areas, cortical regions implicated in tasks involving inhibition and attention control.

The researchers also found an association between depressive symptoms and abnormal white matter in the frontal area, the fiber tracts connecting the region to other areas in the brain.

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These associations were only found when symptoms occurred during the second trimester and post-partum, suggesting these periods are particularly critical times for child brain development.

Abnormalities in brain structure during critical periods in development have often been associated with negative outcomes, such as learning disabilities and behavioural disorders, the researchers said. (IANS)

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Not Afraid To Fail, Asserts Deepika Padukone

Deepika said while people suffering from depression were not expected to identify the symptoms and reach out to a psychiatrist, those around them have to understand it

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Deepika Padukone opens up about her mental health and related concerns in an interview. Twitter
Deepika Padukone opens up about her mental health and related concerns in an interview. Twitter
  • Deepika Padukone is undoubtedly one of the biggest superstars of Bollywood
  • She recently revealed that she is not afraid to fail
  • She also opened up more about depression and other mental conditions

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone said she was not afraid to fail and not afraid to talk about the way she feels.

She believes that success and failure are all part of life and everybody fails at one point in their life. “I am at a stage in my life where I have been through everything.”

Deepika Padukone speaks about not being afraid of failures. Wikimedia Commons
Deepika Padukone speaks about not being afraid of failures. Wikimedia Commons

She was speaking on ‘Making mental wellness a boardroom priority’ at the World Congress on Information Technology and Nasscom India Leadership Forum here on Wednesday.

In a packed hall at ‘global influencer session’ on the last day of the three-day event, Deepika, the founder of The Live Love Laugh Foundation, shared her experiences with depression and gave tips to technologists on how to overcome it.

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In a chat with Nasscom Vice-Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer Wipro Rishad Premji, she said that depression is going to be the next big epidemic.

She said it was important that the persons suffering from depression speak about it with his or her near and dear ones and approach a counsellor and psychiatrist.

Deepika Padukone advised all IT companies to have counsellors and psychiatrists to help the employees who may be suffering from depression.

Deepika requested all IT companies to hire psychiatrists. IANS
Deepika requested all IT companies to hire psychiatrists. IANS

She said the employers should also ensure that such employees are not treated differently, noting there is a lot of stigma attached to mental illness and such people don’t speak due to fear of losing their job.

She believes technology can help create awareness on depression but personal touch and feel is important to help the person. “Personal feel and touch, physical proximity, one-on-one is important which technology in some way is taking away from us.”

On whether social media is adding to the problem, Deepika said while it has been a boon in a lot of ways, she believes that everything should be in moderation. She observed that people on social media sometimes present a glorified version of life.

Recalling her fight with depression, the actress said she was not afraid of being judged when she opened up about the problem. “It’s okay to have moments of weakness, okay to break down and okay to cry. It’s okay if you don’t look great all the time,” she said.

Deepika Padukone is taking up many initiatives involving mental health.
Deepika Padukone is taking up many initiatives involving mental health.

Replying to a query from the audience, Deepika said when she was suffering from depression, she used to feel like not getting up from bed and going for work.

“There was no motivation and drive. I was not able to think straight. You feel a burden. You feel clouded and don’t feel like yourself.”

Also read: 7 Bollywood Celebrity Lehenga to Flaunt in the Upcoming Wedding Season

About the many episodes of breaking down, she said one day when her parents were returning to Bengaluru after visiting her, she broke down in front of her mother, who understood the problem and reached out to a counsellor.

“If my mother had not understood the problem, I would not have got the intervention.”

Deepika said while people suffering from depression were not expected to identify the symptoms and reach out to a psychiatrist, those around them have to understand it.

The actress said frequent sessions with counsellors, medication, lifestyle changes, spacing the work, adequate sleep and the right kind of food helped her overcome the problem.

Deepika Padukone also opened up about her struggles with mental illness. Instagram
Deepika Padukone also opened up about her struggles with mental illness. Instagram

She stressed the need for people to come out and speak about mental illness. “You are not alone. One in three or five persons feels depression. It’s going to be next big epidemic to hit our country,” she said.

On the activities of her Foundation, she said it was working to create awareness in Karnataka’s Davangere district. “If I am able to save even one life, I will feel my job is done.” IANS