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Dysphoria and immune status in postpartum women

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

F H Hucklebridge, M D Smith, A Clow, P Evans, V Glover, A Taylor, D Adams, P M Lydyard

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-206
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1994

King's Authors


This study investigated the relationship between psychological factors and circulating immune cell populations in postpartum women. The study group was 75 women who had vaginal deliveries and were free of psychotropic medication. Four days postpartum each subject completed three mood questionnaires, and a small blood sample was taken. All questionnaire scores were shown to be highly inter-correlated and principal component factor analysis revealed a single factor which we term dysphoria. This factor was significantly associated with lower total circulating lymphocyte counts. The effect was strongest for T cells (largely attributable to a reduction in CD4+ ve T helper cells) and weaker for NK cell counts. No evidence was found of a mediating role for serum cortisol although serum cortisol levels were weakly related to immune status. This study has thus demonstrated that changes in the distribution of the lymphocyte pool are associated with relatively minor differences in postpartum affect.

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