Physiological predictors of postpartum anxiety and depression (3PAD)
What is your educational background?
Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Psychology, plus one year of physics, chemistry, and biology courses at university level.
Why did you apply to WOMHER's interdisciplinary graduate school?
My main area of interest involves studying psychology from a biological perspective. The opportunity to work on a project encompassing those themes, as well as work with supervisors from different fields, was very appealing to me.
Tell us more about your research project?
My project aims to use two physiological measures, heart rate variability (HRV) and pupil dilation (PD), to predict pregnant women who are at-risk for poor mental health outcomes during the postpartum period. HRV and PD are thought to represent how well the body responds and adapts to stress. Abnormalities in these measures could reflect dysregulation of the stress response system which has been previously associated with the development of affective disorders.
What do you hope the impact of this project to be?
Currently, the only tools we have to determine if a woman is at-risk for postpartum mental health problems are self-reports, usually in the form of surveys. We hope that the addition of objective measures could help us identify at-risk women missed by traditional screening methods.
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