Mothers suffering from PPD often feel withdrawn, sad and irritable - they share similar symptoms to people suffering from other forms of depression. That said, emerging studies reveal that PPD creates different patterns in the brain than traditional depression and anxiety.
These studies used Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity. According to Psych Central, "fMRI can be used to produce activation maps showing which parts of the brain are involved in a particular mental process."
Women with PPD show a unique mental process. In traditional mood disorders the amygdala is often hyperactive, but the amygdala in women with PPD tends to be less active.
Right now, PPD is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a subset of major depression. Given the new research and the fact that one in seven mothers experience it, PPD might one day be considered a distinct mood disorder.
Dr. Jodi Pawluski, a researcher at the University of Rennes, says there aren't enough studies that focus on PPD.
According to Psych Central, Pawluski said, "If you think that 10 percent to 20 percent of women during pregnancy and the postpartum period will suffer from depression and/or anxiety, and then you realize there are only 20 publications looking at the neurobiology of these illnesses, it's quite shocking."