Evolutionary approaches to postnatal depression-insights from WEIRD and small-scale setting
21 November 11:30
58a Banbury Road, Pauling Centre
Postnatal depression (PND) is an evolutionary conundrum because it is prevalent across diverse cultures yet detrimental to child development and maternal health. Parental investment theory has been used to propose that PND is an adaptive signal to the mother, to reduce or terminate investment in a new infant. Evolutionary bargaining theory proposes that displays of distress often associated with PND function to elicit support for the mother. Mismatch hypotheses, contend that the aetiology of PND lies in unique aspects of modern lifestyles such as isolation from kin networks, fatty acid deficient diets and early weaning. As such PND is either maladaptive or not adaptive at present. I will present the results from testing alternative hypotheses using data from Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) populations, gathered as part of my PhD research, and from the Tsimane, a Bolivian forager-horticulturalist population. I will also discuss the utility of evolutionary approaches to depression for identifying novel risk factors and informing public health policy, and suggest areas for future research.