Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Mindy Staveteig


Postpartum depression; Genetics; DNA methylation; Single nucleotide polymorphism


Postpartum depression affects an estimated 12% of women following delivery and it is believed that 50% of those women will go undiagnosed. It is well accepted in the scientific community that genetics play a role in the development of many mental health disorders. Recent research has demonstrated that this may also be the case with postpartum depression. There is a 50% incidence rate among women who have a first-degree relative diagnosed with postpartum depression (Guintivano et al., 2018). A literature review was conducted focusing on the research of epigenetics within the last five years, specifically investigating DNA methylation and single nucleotide polymorphisms. Sixteen articles met the inclusion criteria from PubMed and APA PsycInfo. The most promising research is related to DNA methylation at the TTC9B and HP1BP3 genes. Although it is still early in the research process, researchers have been able to use this information to accurately predict the development of postpartum depression in women with over 70% accuracy (Payne et al., 2020). Other areas of interest include DNA methylation at the oxytocin receptor and single nucleotide polymorphisms found in the genes 5HTT, COMT/MAO, and Beta-11. Although the research into these areas is relatively new and further confirmatory research is needed, this has established a good basis for investigating the genetic involvement in postpartum depression. This can result in better postpartum care for women, develop potential screening mechanisms, and lead to better outcomes for women and their children.