New research has offered hope of better care for new mothers who suffer from postnatal depression within weeks of giving birth.
Researchers who led the study at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore say that a simple blood test kit that provides early warning that a woman is at risk of PND could be available within two years.
According to the Daily Mail, the test has identified two genes thought to make women particularly susceptible to the effects of pregnancy hormones on the brain, which could leave them less able to adapt to the demands of motherhood.
Dr Zachary Kaminsky, who led the study, believes the blood test means that women deemed to be at high risk could be offered more practical support or stress management.
Dr Kaminsky said, “If you knew you were likely to develop post-partum depression, your decisions about managing your care could be made more clearly.”
One-in-five new mothers experiences postnatal depression, which varies in severity but can cause debilitating sadness, irritability, loss of appetite, insomnia and feelings of worthlessness, and can last more than a year.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who suffered from postnatal depression after the birth of her son Moses in 2006, described it as “one of the darkest and most painfully debilitating” times of her life.