Gonadal steroids (GSs) have been repeatedly shown to play a central role in the onset of postpartum depression (PPD). The underlying mechanisms, however, are only partially understood. We investigated the relationship between cognitive processing of emotional information and naturally occurring hormonal fluctuations in women with and without previous PPD. Euthymic, parous women, with a history (hPPD, n=32) and without a history (nhPPD, n=43) of PPD, were assessed during late-follicular and late-luteal phases. Participants were administered cognitive tasks assessing attention (dot-probe; emotional Stroop), evaluation (self-referential encoding) and incidental recall, and self-report measures. Menstrual-phase-specific differences were found between late-follicular vs. late-luteal phases among hPPD only, with depression-associated patterns observed in the late-luteal phase on the self-referential encoding and incidental recall task and emotional Stroop task, but not on the dot-probe task. No main effect for menstrual phase was found on any of the tasks or questionnaires, apart from the brooding component of rumination. Women with hPPD demonstrate a differential bias in cognitive processing of emotional information that is menstrual phase dependent, and did not correspond to similar difference in mood symptoms. These biases may reflect sensitivity to gonadal steroid fluctuations that are associated with PPD.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature.
- Mood disorders
- PMS/premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- Pregnancy and postpartum
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Psychiatry and Mental health