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Title:Vulnerability risk factors and physiological mechanisms underlying the relationship between stressor exposure and mental health outcomes during the perinatal period
Author(s):Cintora, Patricia
Director of Research:Laurent, Heidemarie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Laurent, Heidemarie
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Gobin, Robyn; Ridlon, Jason; Raetzman, Lori; Heller, Wendy
Department / Program:Neuroscience Program
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):gut-brain-axis, Interpersonal stress, Interpersonal violence, Post-Partum Depression
Abstract:Stress can confer risk for psychological disorders through intersecting neurophysiological pathways. Although numerous vulnerability-risk factors have been identified to increase risk for stress-related disorders, the mechanisms underlying the relationship between stressor exposure and mental health outcomes during sensitive time periods, such as the perinatal, remain to be elucidated. Therefore, the goal of my dissertation is to further elucidate the psychosocial stress conditions driving perinatal mental health by focusing on the impact of both historical and concurrent stressor exposure as well as gut microbiota changes. Chapter 2 investigates the moderating effect of historical stressors (e.g., early adversity) on responsiveness of postpartum symptoms to a concurrent interpersonal stressor (e.g., relationship conflict). Chapter 3 investigates whether prenatal stress exposures are associated with alterations of the gut microbiota and whether dysbiosis could promote the development of psychological symptoms across the postpartum. Chapter 4 provides a discussion merging both studies. Results reveal that it may be important to address stressors even at levels below threshold values typically used to determine risk in a given screening or treatment setting based on historical and current stress context for a given woman. In addition, our study supports further investigation of the role of diversity within gut microbial communities for identifying women at most risk for stress-related perinatal mental health problems. Such findings could further guide efforts to prevent and treat stress-related disorders through pre/probiotic therapies regulating gut microbiota. Taken together, these two studies highlight the ongoing mental health risks women face as they navigate stressful life transitions and help to inform screening and intervention efforts across such transitions.
Issue Date:2021-06-07
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Patricia Cintora
Date Available in IDEALS:2022-01-12
Date Deposited:2021-08

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