ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (3): 456-464.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2020.00456

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Roles of oxytocin in maternal behavior of women with postpartum depression and its underlying neural mechanisms

DI Tianqi, HUANG Yujing, GAO Jun()   

  1. School of Psychology, the Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
  • Received:2019-06-01 Online:2020-03-15 Published:2020-01-18
  • Contact: GAO Jun


Postpartum depression is a complex phenomenon of severe depressive episodes that occur within a period of time after delivery. Evidences suggest that oxytocin is an important modulator of female reproductive functions including parturition, lactation and maternal behavior, while it also plays an important role in modulating the development of postpartum depression and the maintain of maternal behavior. In postpartum depression patients, the emotional and cognitive impairment might contribute to the impairment of maternal behavior. Oxytocin directly regulates maternal behavior through the mesolimbic dopamine system. Oxytocin acting on medial preoptic area (MPOA) to activate the pathway of ventral tegmental area (VTA)-nucleus accumbens (NAc) and thus modulate the secretion of dopamine in NAc. Finally, we point out that oxytocin mediates maternal behavior in postpartum depression is through its modulation of the serotoninergic system, and its interactions with other hormones. Future studies should focus on functional differences of oxytocin in the central nervous system and the effect of social support on oxytocin uses in postpartum depression.

Key words: oxytocin, postpartum depression, maternal behaviors, neural circuit mechanisms, neurochemical mechanisms