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Prospective Study

Postpartum Mood Episodes in Women with Mood Disorders

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Payne, M.D.


Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a serious syndrome which resembles a major depressive episode and occurs in 10-20% of all mothers in the year following delivery (1). In addition, 20 – 30 % of women with Bipolar Disorder will experience postpartum psychosis (mania) and at least 20 % will experience a postpartum depression (1) with some estimates as high as 65 % (2). The postpartum time therefore represents a natural experiment that, in the setting of prospective monitoring, will allow the measurement of biological, genetic, and environmental factors that may impact the development of mood episodes.

We are currently conducting a study in which pregnant women with a history of a mood disorder are followed throughout their pregnancy and during the postpartum period and are monitored for the development of depressive or other mood episodes.  In addition to clinical data, biological measures such as hormone levels, brain derived neurotrophic factor serum levels and other growth factors will be taken.  Environmental factors such as sleep deprivation and stress will also be measured.  These factors will be considered in the setting of genetic data with the hope that we will ultimately be able to predict the onset of postpartum mood episodes in vulnerable populations.

Participation in this study would involve coming in for a screening visit, then returning once during each trimester, then at one week, one month, and three months postpartum (for a total of 6 visits).  The initial visit would involve a psychiatrist taking a psychiatric history, a research team member conducting a diagnostic interview, and the subject filling out several questionnaires.  During the follow up visits subjects would check in with a psychiatrist, have blood drawn, and fill out a variety of questionnaires.

Subjects would be paid for each visit completed, leading to a total of $250 if they were to complete the entire study. 

For more information about the study, please call 410-502-2586 or email


  1. Campbell SB, Cohn JF. Prevalence and correlates of postpartum depression in first-time mothers. J Abnorm Psychol 1991 November;100(4):594-9.
  2.  Hunt N, Silverstone T. Does puerperal illness distinguish a subgroup of bipolar patients? J Affect Disord 1995 May 17;34(2):101-7.

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