Brief overview of central nervous system anatomy and physiology in relation to postpartum depression

As discussed earlier in this chapter, the etiology of postpartum depression is currently unknown and likely to be multifactorial. With a focus on the brain specifically, it is important to consider how nutrients can affect the basic structure of the nerve cell and the surrounding neurochemical environment. Nerve cells or neurons are arranged in a highly organized fashion and collections of neurons comprise different functional areas of the brain including vision, hearing, memory, speech, emotions, and mood. A nutrient deficit can negatively influence the communication between nerve cells (i.e., neurotransmission) and have a collective negative effect on different functional areas of the brain including the regulation of mood and emotional response. The following sections outline the basic principles of neuroscience and review evidence of the role of key nutrients that may play a role in neurophysiological processes related to postpartum depression.

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