Explore This Research Lab
Ensuring the well-being of women from the very early postpartum period is important for mother and child health. Research in the Dekel lab at Massachusetts General Hospital is focused on identifying the factors that are implicated in optimal adaptation as well as psychopathology of mothers following childbirth. To this end, we combine psychological, physiological and neuroimaging tools to prospectively study women from pregnancy across childbirth. Ultimately our goal is to develop novel tools for early detection of mothers at risk for postpartum mental disorders and preventive treatments that are effective and safe.
Although childbirth is usually considered a uniformly happy event, some women may experience a traumatic childbirth. Some will go on to develop a postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition we know very little about. We study the psychological and biological mechanisms underlying the various mental health trajectories in the wake of a traumatic delivery and what allows some women to be resilient and even grow psychologically. We are also interested in learning the ways in which distress in the mother may influence child development.
There’s a recurrent theme among birthing people who experience a traumatic birth, only 20% seek treatment because there’s no formal diagnosis for postpartum PTSD. Women too often don’t know they’re suffering with the condition and can experience guilt and shame.
Increasing awareness of conditions of traumatic stress and associated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is different and distinct from postpartum depression (PPD), after giving birth can help destigmatize postpartum PTSD, promote healing and a sense of ‘you’re not alone.’
Please be advised that the stories below are honest and powerful, though traumatic, stories of childbirth.
Emergency and/or unscheduled cesarean section (c-section)
“It’s after 6am and I wake up in my bed at the delivery room to see a group of nurses standing at my bedside looking very concerned. I immediately can tell that something’s not right. One of the nurses tells me that my baby’s heart rate has spiked really high and isn’t coming down. I start to panic and feel my heart beat faster and my stomach in knots. Two or three minutes later the nurses rush back in and one of them tells me that I need a c-section right now. I ask whether my partner can come and the nurse tells me they have to take me immediately. She puts a hairnet on me as they’re rushing me down the hall. I feel like I have no control. I hold on to my necklace with my daughter’s ashes and pray. I’m all alone and I’m terrified that I’ll lose this baby too.”
Recovery / immediate postpartum
“It’s the morning and I'm in the bathroom. I’ve just urinated. Now, I feel something large slide out of me as I stand up. Looking down, my face becomes flushed. There, on the pad in my underwear, I see a very large blood clot approximately the size of a lime. I’m feeling nauseous and my heart quickens. I fear that I’m bleeding again. With my hands trembling, I pull the nurses’ emergency line. Then, 3 nurses come running into the bathroom, and I see they look panicked. I feel lightheaded and jittery. I’m scared I need another surgery.”
Health of the fetus
“It’s around 11 am and I’m lying on a bed in the operating room and I’ve just had a c-section. They drop the curtain to show me my baby, and I feel sweaty as I look at her. She looks very red and swollen, and I know that something is wrong. My husband tells me that she has swelling on her head because she couldn’t fit, and I feel guilty because she was trying, and I wasn’t helping her. I feel exhausted as I think about what’s going to happen next. With tension in my forehead, I hear the constant chatter between the doctors, but no one will tell me if I’ll be able to do skin to skin and I feel sad.”
“I’m lying cut open on the operating room table and blood rushes to my head. I don’t hear my baby crying, and I think that she’s not alive. They take my baby away, and I see my husband walk past me, looking at me with my insides exposed. The surgeon says, “I don’t like the placement of the bowel, let’s take it out and place it again.” I break out into a sweat and start to have a panic attack as my heart beats faster. Then, I begin to black out and my hands start to shake as I become nauseous.”
“It’s 11:00 pm and I’m lying on the operating room table with three IVs restricting my arms. My husband isn’t in the room and I’m all alone. Bright light shines on me, and my eyes become watery. Immediately I feel sick and begin to vomit. The nurse gives me a puke bag and I’m barely holding it between my left shoulder and chin. Only some of the vomit makes it in. I continue to shake vigorously and feel no control over what is happening. Now, the doctor tells me she needs to do a hysterectomy. My body feels heavy as I think I’ll lose my uterus. I’m concerned I may even lose my life.”
“It’s around 9:30 AM. I am in the labor and delivery unit propped up in a hospital bed with an IV, oxygen saturation monitor, and a fetal heart monitor on my belly. My husband is to the left of me, along with two nurses and a young male anesthesiologist elsewhere in the room. I feel tense all over and my heart begins to beat faster as I remember what happened during my last birthing experience. I ask the anesthesiologist if he had read my file in preparation for today. He says no and even shrugs when I describe my previous birthing experience. I want to scream, my jaw clenches and my stomach feels knotted, but I keep my emotions inside. I feel like everything is unraveling.”
Baby/mom attachment connection
“I’m lying on the birthing bed in the delivery room with my husband and the midwife holding my legs wide open. My heart races and I feel sweaty as the nurse tells me, “next push and she’s going to be here.” Suddenly, someone plops my baby onto me. With my eyes wide open, I look at her big purple face. It doesn’t feel like this is my baby and I feel disconnected, waiting for her to make a sound. Then, my palms are clammy as they quickly take her away and I feel shocked. She doesn’t look right, and I know that something is wrong.”
Resources for New Parents
If you or someone you care about needs mental health help, please consider calling one of these numbers on the right. If you are facing a life-threatening emergency call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
General Mental Health Resources
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 988
- Massachusetts Behavioral Health Help: 833-773-2445
- Massachusetts non-urgent help with social needs: 211
- National Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis.
Las personas en crisis deben llamar a sus médicos, al número de emergencia local o a una de las Líneas Directas Nacionales de Emergencia que se muestran a continuación.
- Línea de Crisis Nacional- Mensaje de texto : Envia un mensaje de texto con la palabra HOME al 741741 desde cualquier lugar de los EE. UU., en cualquier momento, sobre cualquier tipo de crisis.
Postpartum and Maternal Mental Health Resources
- Postpartum Support International (PSI)
- Helpline: 1-800-944-4773. You can connect with a support coordinator near you and search their online provider directory
- NOTE: The PSI Helpline does not handle emergencies. People in crisis should call their local emergency number or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- PSI International Resources
- PSI of Massachusetts provides toll-free and confidential information and support. Leave a message and a volunteer will get back to you within 24 hours. Call 866-472-1897 or Text “Help” to 800-944-4773
- The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline
- Helpline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262). This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English and Spanish. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.
- Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program for Moms (MCPAP) promotes maternal and child health by building the capacity of providers serving pregnant and postpartum women and their children up to one year after delivery to effectively prevent, identify, and manage mental health and substance use concerns.
- Jewish Family & Children’s Services offers free Home Visiting Program for new mothers in both English and Spanish.
- Mass PPD Fund offers new parent mental health resources
See Dr. Dekel present her research into childbirth trauma and maternal PTSD.
We are interested in studying women who are pregnant or recently gave birth at MGH or another Harvard-affiliated hospital. If this applies to you and you are interested in participating in research, please email MothersStudy@partners.org.
If you gave birth at MGH within the last three months and are interested in participating in research, please visit https://rally.massgeneralbrigham.org/study/maternal_brain.
Current Lab Studies
Impact of Coronavirus on Mother’s Birth Experience and Wellbeing – Follow-up Study
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the lives of millions of people upside down all over the globe and is affecting our wellbeing. Our mothers wellness coronavirus project is an international study and is open to ALL women (in the U.S. and other countries) who have completed the first survey. This follow-up study is being done to understand the impact of COVID-19 on women’s birth experience and mental health. The knowledge gained can help inform appropriate care of women during their stay in hospital postpartum units and afterwards. Over 3,200 new mothers have enrolled in our study as of December 28, 2020.
Please see the study ad below:
Calling all moms for our follow-up study! Have you given birth just before or during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak? Harvard and Mass General Hospital researchers are examining the impact of COVID-19 on mothers’ childbirth experience and wellbeing. If you completed the first study survey, we are excited to invite you to participate in our second assessment. Click here to take the survey.
Preventing Postpartum Depression with Oxytocin
Our NIH funded clinical trial introduces a novel therapeutic approach with the use of oxytocin administered to mothers at risk immediately following childbirth. We are testing whether oxytocin, an anxiolytic and pro-social hormone, can reduce postpartum depression and anxiety and boost mother-infant bonding as well as breastfeeding to the ultimate benefit of the child’s health. Boosting mother-infant bonding at a critical stage for infant development can modify the long-term health trajectory of the child. This study is done in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of Mass General researchers and the Mass General Obstetrics Program. Women who plan to deliver at Mass General are being recruited for this study. Clinical Trial
Predicting Peripartum Depression Using Machine Learning
Peripartum depression (PPD) occurring during pregnancy or after childbirth is the most common complication surrounding childbirth, and in extreme cases, can result in maternal suicide and infanticide. Currently, there are no accurate screening methods to identify women at risk before the condition fully develops. In this NIH funded study, we are using advanced computational methods and integrating the massive health and sociodemographic information in women’s medical records to improve the prediction of a debilitating maternal mental illness. Our model can lay the foundation for effective screening methods using big data. It could be developed into a low-cost screening protocol useful in clinical settings to provide highly informative guidance for clinicians making diagnostic and treatment decisions. This in turn could reduce treatment costs, avoid a potentially preventable disease, and ultimately, improve the quality of care for mothers and their children.
The Maternal Brain: Examining Neural Alterations Following Traumatic Childbirth
As much as a third of women experience a traumatic childbirth and a significant portion can go on to develop PTSD. Nevertheless, research on the underling biological mechanism of this maternal condition that can detect disease biomarkers is completely lacking. Neuroimaging is currently the only technique that provides direct non-invasive access to the living human brain. This NIH funded study is the first of its kind to examine potential changes in the maternal brain associated with traumatic childbirth and the development of PTSD. We use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tasks to reveal the core neural abnormalities of childbirth-related PTSD and how these abnormalities can mediate problems in early mother-infant attachment and impair healthy child development. Elucidating the neural correlates of postpartum PTSD and yielding clinically relevant biomarkers could translate into the development of new therapies and improve clinical diagnosis. This study is open for enrollment.
Childbirth-induced Postpartum Psychological Outcomes
Identifying at risk women for postpartum mental health disorders is crucial for implementing preventive treatment tailored to different symptoms. In this large-scale prospective, longitudinal study, we are examining women’s mental health trajectories from pregnancy through childbirth into the early postpartum period. We study the experience of childbirth and subsequent heterogeneous psychological responses to better capture the dynamic nature of postpartum coping over time. We assess negative as well as positive mental health outcomes induced by the childbirth experience and the factors predicting these responses. Women who plan to deliver at Mass General are recruited for this study, which is conducted in collaboration with Mass General Obstetrics Program. To learn more, contact our team at MothersStudy@partners.org.
Traumatic Childbirth: A Physiological Approach to Study Maternal Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
In this study we are examining the validation of maternal PTSD. To this end, we are using the same experimental methods that have been developed to establish the recognition of combat-related PTSD. We ask whether the memory of childbirth can trigger heightened physiological responses, similarly to the well-documented physiological reactivity seen in veterans diagnosed with PTSD. This study may call for expanding the formal DSM definition of postpartum conditions to include disorders of traumatic stress. Clinical Trial
International Study of Childbirth Characteristics and Subsequent PTSD
We recently completed a study of nearly 700 postpartum women from around the globe, targeting posttraumatic stress symptoms following childbirth. We have found that as much as 12% of women are expected to experience PTSD symptoms at a clinical level after giving birth to a healthy baby at term. Women who have an unscheduled Cesarean are three times more likely to suffer from PTSD.
Overall, our findings show that objective stressors in birth such as mode of delivery and obstetrical complications as well as the woman’s subjective traumatic experience of childbirth predict the development of subsequent PTSD. Socioeconomic disadvantage also increases vulnerability. Furthermore, having symptoms of PTSD can interfere with the mother’s ability to bond with her baby.
How was your childbirth experience?
We at Harvard University and Mass General Hospital are collaborating with other investigators around the globe to improve maternal mental health following childbirth. For this purpose, we would like to learn about your recent childbirth experience.
Let’s work together to collect critical information to ensure that women will receive all the support they deserve around childbirth.
Click here to complete an anonymous survey. It will take about 15 minutes to complete. Please note, this study is only open to those who gave birth at a Harvard-affiliated hospital within the past 6-12 weeks.
Sharon Dekel, PhD | Principal Investigator
Dr. Sharon Dekel is an assistant professor of Psychology of Harvard Medical School. She earned a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University and completed her clinical internship training at Columbia Medical Center followed by a research postdoctoral fellowship in a lead international trauma lab. Dr. Dekel is also a licensed clinical psychologist.
Dr. Dekel has been studying biological and psychological factors associated with ways of coping with stressful events. Her work on the positive outlook of traumatic stress is considered pioneering in the field. Rather than viewing trauma outcomes as exclusively negative, her studies have increased our understanding of the human capacity to thrive in the wake of trauma (see Dekel’s publication record).
Since joining Massachusetts General Hospital in 2013, Dr. Dekel has expanded her research with the investigation of childbirth as a potentially traumatic event. This represents a new frontier in trauma studies. She developed a multidisciplinary research model involving both the Mass General Psychiatric and OB/GYN Departments that has allowed her to study over 4,000 postpartum women. Dr. Dekel is defining the overlooked condition of childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder and working to better understand the transmission of the disorder’s effects to the offspring. By studying childbirth as a model of traumatic stress, she hopes to translate the knowledge gained to improve clinical care of trauma-exposed individuals.
Dr. Dekel is a two time recipient of the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation’s Young Investigator Award, Mass General’s Claflin Distinguished Scholar Award for Women in Science, the MGH’s Executive Committee On Research ISF funding, the Harvard Mind Brain Behavior Faculty Award, and a recent recipient of Postpartum Support International Susan A. Hickman Memorial Research Award for excellence in scientific work on postpartum mental health. She has been continually supported by the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Dekel is on the Editorial Board of PLOS ONE, Frontiers in Psychology, where she edited a special volume on childbirth-PTSD, and Journal of Psychological Trauma, the American Psychological Association’s lead traumatic stress journal. Dr. Dekel is also Chair of the Postpartum Trauma Special Interest Group of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, which is the largest professional organization in the field.
Beatrice Quagliarini, MD | Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Beatrice is a dedicated psychiatrist with a passion for improving women’s mental health. After obtaining her medical degree from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome, she discovered her love for psychiatry during an internship at Sainte Anne Hospital in Paris. This experience led her to pursue her residency in Geneva, where she specialized in liaison psychiatry and women's mental health. After working in this field for two years, Beatrice developed a strong desire to deepen her knowledge via research and joined Dekel Lab, in which she is currently contributing to the BIRTH study, the Expressive Writing study, and the project studying maternal mental health in Nigeria. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading, spending quality time with her friends, and practicing yoga that she also teaches.
Kathleen Jagodnik, PhD | Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Kathleen earned her MS and PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Her work in the Lab focuses on using Machine Learning to identify risk factors of childbirth-associated PTSD (CB-PTSD) and developing computational models to estimate women’s risk for CB-PTSD. She is also a coordinator of the Lab’s study assessing the posts on social media of peripartum women, and is a contributor to the Stillbirth Study. In her free time, she enjoys reading, composing electronic music, conducting completist music reviews, and pursuing various creative projects.
Gabriella Hamlett, MA | PhD Graduate Student
Gabriella is a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. student at Harvard University. She is interested in emotion regulatory processes underlying the onset and maintenance of PTSD, anxiety, and OCD, particularly in peripartum women. Gabriella is conducting her first year Ph.D. project in the Lab where she is using network analysis to study the dynamic relationships among trauma symptoms, emotion regulation, and external factors across the perinatal period. Gabriella completed her M.A. at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2020 and her B.S. at UC Davis in 2017.
Megan Rausch, BS | Graduate Student
Megan earned her B.S. in Psychology from University of Idaho and is now pursuing her Master's degree at Harvard Extension School in Biological Sciences. She is conducting her Master’s thesis research in the Lab where she is studying postpartum psychiatric illnesses in Black and Hispanic women, and how racial discrimination contributes to adverse birth outcomes. In the future, Megan hopes to become a Physician Assistant and work in psychiatry or neurology wards. In her free time, she enjoys exploring New England, hiking, painting, and making creative content for social media.
Sabrina Chan, BS | Clinical Research Coordinator
Sabrina earned a B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Northeastern University and conducted her honors thesis in the Lab on the effect of intranasal oxytocin on postpartum depression and maternal infant bonding. Over the course of her four years in the Lab, she has authored 9 publications, of which two are first author (PMID: 32480118, PMID: 35640702) and 1 is co-first author (PMID: 35772629), and has presented her work in two poster presentations at the ISTSS conference (2019, 2020). In her free time, she enjoys painting, reading, and learning how to box.
Ananya Iyengar, BS | Clinical Research Coordinator
Ananya recently graduated from Northeastern University, where she studied Biology, Psychology, and Behavioral Neuroscience. She joined the Lab in the spring of 2021, as part of Northeastern’s co-op program, and has primarily worked on assessing mother-infant interactions and postpartum PTSD as part of the Maternal Brain Study. She is first author on a recent publication, PMID: 35598158. She plans to attend medical school in the future. Outside of school and research, Ananya enjoys traveling and plant-based cooking.
Christina Pham, BA | Clinical Research Coordinator
Christina recently graduated from Harvard College, where she studied English Literature with a minor in Mind, Brain, and Behavior. In the lab, she leads coordination for the Expressive Writing study, assists with the BIRTH study, and conducts child developmental assessments. She hopes to attend medical school in the future. In her free time, Christina enjoys writing and traveling.
Abigail Romero, BA | Clinical Research Coordinator
Abigail is a recent graduate from Harvard University where she earned her B.A. in Applied Mathematics and Economics. In the Lab, Abigail coordinates both the BIRTH and CARES studies, related to identifying and preventing CB-PTSD, while providing data analysis support to a number of other studies in the lab. She hopes to pursue a PhD in psychology and become a clinical psychologist. In her free time, Abigail enjoys cycling, listening to audio books, and ballroom dancing.
Biana Buissereth | Research Student
Biana is a 3rd year undergraduate student currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in Astrophysics at Northeastern University. She is currently completing a Co-op Internship with the Lab and is assisting with the BIRTH study. Biana plans to attend medical school in the future and become an OB/GYN. In her free time, Biana enjoys going to museums and traveling.
Rose Herman | Research Student
Rose is an undergraduate senior at Tufts University pursuing a Bachelors degree in Biopsychology. In the lab, Rose is involved in the BIRTH study, helping with recruitment, data organization, and executing study procedures. After she graduates, Rose hopes to attend medical school and become a doctor. In her free time, Rose enjoys crocheting, going to the beach, and traveling with friends.
Chloe Lee | Research Student
Chloe is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Northeastern University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Behavioral Neuroscience. As a Co-op Intern in the Lab, Chloe contributes to a number of studies, including the Birth Study, fMRI Study, and Expressive Writing Study. After graduation, Chloe hopes to attend medical school specializing in a surgical field with a focus on underserved populations and emphasis on global medicine. In her free time, Chloe enjoys bouldering, listening to music, and creating collages.
Salma Mokhtar | Research Student
Salma is a sophomore at Northeastern University majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience. As a Co-Op Intern in the Lab, Salma is assisting with the recruitment and assessments of mothers in the Maternal Brain Study and is also involved in the BIRTH Study and Nigeria Project. She hopes to pursue a career in psychiatry in the future. In her free time, Salma enjoys watching films and documentaries, and loves drawing.
Rania Mudassar Saeed | Research Student
Rania is a 4th-year undergraduate student at Northeastern University majoring in Psychology and minoring in Cellular and Molecular Biology. As a Co-Op Intern in the Lab, Rania contributes to various research activities and studies. After graduation, she hopes to attend medical school and work directly with underserved communities. In her free time, Rania enjoys listening to and making music, cooking, and spending time with her friends and family.
Mor Breger | Research Volunteer
Mor moved to Boston with her family a year ago after completing her Master's degree in Neuroscience. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist in Israel and is involved in philanthropy activities and data coding in the Lab. Whenever she has free time, you'll probably find her doing CrossFit, listening to music, or spending time with friends and family.
- Roger Pitman, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
- Scott Orr, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
- Anjali Kaimal, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
- Elizabeth Lawson, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
- Linda Mayes, MD, Yale University
- Lauren Hanley, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
- Sara Bates, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
- Ahmed Tawakol, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
- George Bonanno, PhD, Columbia University
- Peter Tsvetkov, PhD, Broad Institute
- Lisa Shin, PhD, Tufts University
- Zahava Solomon, PhD, Tel Aviv University, Israel
- Ruth Feldman, PhD, Interdisciplinary Center, Israel
- Tsachi Ein Dor, PhD, Interdisciplinary Center, Israel
- Rachel Yehuda, PhD, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
- Jeffery Rosen, PhD, University of Delware
We have ongoing research opportunities in our lab. To learn about postdoctoral and research fellowship positions, please contact Dr. Sharon Dekel at email@example.com
Research Volunteers: We are seeking student volunteers to assist with the operation of ongoing clinical research studies in our lab. Primarily responsibilities will involve screening candidates and recruiting subjects, data entry, and assisting with conducting the biological and psychological assessments of subjects as needed. Ideal candidates will be highly motivated with the strong interpersonal skills necessary to interact with patients and succeed in a dynamic work environment. If you are interested, please send your cover letter and resume to our clinical research coordinator, Ms. Abigail Romero at firstname.lastname@example.org.
News and Achievements
- Bravo!!! Dr. Dekel has been awarded a 5-year NIH R01 grant to study 1,000 pregnant women and reveal the risk factors and course of PTSD following childbirth and its impact on the developing child. Thank you NICHD for supporting science to promote maternal mental health.
- Dr. Dekel is the recipient of the 2022 MGH ECOR ISF Research Award in support of her work on PTSD following childbirth
- Dr. Dekel was awarded in June 2021 an NIH grant to promote diversity in health related-research. Congratulations!
- Great news! Our lab has received Harvard’s 2020-2021 Mind Brain Behavior Research Relief Faculty Award!
- Dr. Dekel was awarded an NIH grant entitled “Neural underpinnings of postpartum adaptation following traumatic delivery and implications for infant development"
Dr. Dekel was awarded an NIH grant entitled “Predictive modeling of peripartum depression”
Dr. Dekel has been awarded the Harvard’s 2020 Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative faculty award!
- Congratulations to Dr. Dekel for receiving Mass General's Executive Committee On Research Award, 2019 Deliberative Interim Support Funding
- Congratulations to Dr. Dekel for receiving the 2019 CFD Award
Highlighted Mentions in News
- MGH Psychiatry News featured the Dekel Lab's research: Focusing on the Psychological Consequences of Traumatic Childbirth. July 17, 2023
- Mind Blossom, a nonprofit organization promoting mental health, featured Dr. Dekel in a livestream interview discussing maternal mental health, including the Dekel Lab's research. Hosted on the Mind Blossom livestream. June 7, 2023
- The Dekel Lab's work is featured in the MGH News article Anna’s Story: Healing After a Traumatic Birth, describing the healing process of a woman who experienced traumatic childbirth and became a participant in the Dekel Lab's research. May 22, 2023
- Dr. Dekel Interviewed about maternal PTSD following childbirth. Featured on News Nation television program, May 15, 2023
- Our study shows that computational methods that analyze birth narratives can predict risk for PTSD following childbirth, featured on NIH Science Updates, January 2023
Our work documents that women giving birth during COVID-19 experience psychological growth following childbirth Highlighted on Mass General’s Advances in Motion, November 2022
- Our research finds that traumatic childbirth during the COVID-19 Pandemic triggered positive psychological changes for some Highlighted on Mass General’s Advances in Motion, November 2022
Our research reveals Black and Latinx women at heightened risk for developing traumatic stress following childbirth and depression Highlighted on Mass General’s Advances in Motion, October 2022
- Our research reveals Black and Latinx women more likely to experience negative childbirth outcomes during the COVID-10 Pandemic Highlighted on Mass General’s Advances in Motion, October 2022
- Dr. Dekel interviewed about the stressful experience of giving birth during COVID-19. Listen to this podcast! https://www.pandemic-parent.org/podcast/generation-covid-pt-2-pregnant-during-the-pandemic Pandemic Parents, July 12, 2022
- Our research on maternal psychological growth during COVID-19 covered in NewsMedical https://www.news-medical.net/news/20220629/Maternal-psychological-growth-and-improved-mother-infant-bonding-triggered-by-childbirth-during-COVID-19-pandemic.aspx News Medical, June 29, 2022
- Our recent studies show that many women suffer from traumatic childbirth during COVID-19 highlighted on Mass General's Psychiatry News, January 2022
- Our research reveals negative childbirth outcomes in women positive for COVID-19 highlighted on Mass General's Advances in Motion, November 2021
- Dr. Dekel interviewed in an article on psychological growth when giving birth during the pandemic on Washington Post, July 2021
- Highlights of Dr. Dekel’s COVID-19 study on Mass General Advances in Motion, June 2021
- Dr. Dekel talks about postpartum PTSD and COVID on the TODAY show on NBC, May 2021
- NIH highlights our recent study on traumatic childbirth during the pandemic, January 2021
- Our research reveals the negative impact of COVID-19 on new mothers and their newborns, on Israel News, January 2021
- Women with COVID-19 more likely to suffer acute stress during childbirth (coverage of recent COVID-19 maternal wellness project’s finding) on Medical News, December 2020
- Postpartum Depression Common in Women with Childbirth-Related PTSD on MGH Psychiatry News, November 2020
- Postpartum mental health in the face of the pandemic on Boston Globe, May 2020
- Dr. Dekel explains the notion of psychological growth following trauma on The American Lawyer, May 2020
- The ‘fourth trimester’ and plight of new mothers during a pandemic on Boston Globe Magazine, May 2020
- Dr. Dekel talks about her research on COVID-19 and maternal mental health on Mass General Research Institute Blog, April 2020
- Dr. Dekel talks about her research on Psychology Today, December 2019
- "It's a Battle Scar": The Emotional Toll of C-Sections No-one Talks About on Harper's Bazaar, October 2019
- What Is Postpartum PTSD? Interview with Dr. Dekel on Goop
- Depression Screening Needed in Peripartum Period to Detect Delayed Onset and Fluctuating Symptoms on Mass General Advances in Motion, July 2019
- Why #Metoo Matters in the Delivery Room on The Establishment, March 2019
- Featured interview with Dr. Dekel on the Mass General Research Institute Blog, February 2019
- Dr. Dekel Interviewed As Featured Member of Postpartum Support International, Postpartum Support International
Q&A with Dr. Sharon Dekel: Understanding Postpartum PTSD, Advances in Motion
Nearly Dying In Childbirth: Why Preventable Complications Are Growing In U.S., NPR
Mass General Awards and Honors, Mass General News
The Mothers Who Can’t Escape the Trauma of Childbirth, The Atlantic
Selected Publications (Most recent first)
Increased traumatic childbirth and postpartum depression and lack of exclusive breastfeeding in Black and Latinx individuals. Iyengar AS, Ein-Dor T, Zhang EX, Chan SJ, Kaimal AJ, Dekel S. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2022 May 22. PMID: 35598158.
A Systematic Review of Interventions for Prevention and Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Following Childbirth. Dekel S, Papadakis JE, Quagliarini B, Jagodnik KM, Nandru R. medRxiv. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.08.17.23294230
Screening for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Following Childbirth Using the Peritraumatic Distress Inventory. Jagodnik KM, Ein-Dor T, Chan SJ, Titelman Ashkenazy A, Bartal A, Dekel S. medRxiv. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.04.23.23288976
Peripartum effects of synthetic oxytocin: The good, the bad, and the unknown. Rashidi M, Maier E, Dekel S, Sütterlin M, Wolf RC, Ditzen B, Grinevich V, Herpertz SC. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 141. 2022,104859. PMID:36087759. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2022.104859
Identifying Women with Post-Delivery Posttraumatic Stress Disorder using Natural Language Processing of Personal Childbirth Narratives. Bartal A, Jagodnik KM, Chan MSJ, Babu MMS, Dekel S. Am J Obstet Gynecol MFM. 2022 Dec 9; 100834. doi: 10.1016/j.ajogmf.2022.100834. PubMed PMID: 36509356; NIHMSID:NIHMS1856600.
Traumatic childbirth during COVID-19 triggers maternal psychological growth and in turn better mother-infant bonding. Babu MS, Chan SJ, Ein-Dor T, Dekel S. J Affect Disord. 2022 Jun 27; 313:163-166. PMID: 35772629. PMCID: PMC7889625
Validation of Childbirth-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Using Psychophysiological Assessment. Chan SJ, Thiel F, Kaimal AJ, Pitman RK, Orr SP, Dekel S. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2022 May 28. PMID: 35640702.
Increased traumatic childbirth and postpartum depression and lack of exclusive breastfeeding in Black and Latinx individuals. Iyengar AS, Ein-Dor T, Zhang EX, Chan SJ, Kaimal AJ, Dekel S. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2022 May 22. PMID: 35598158.
COVID‑19 positivity associated with traumatic stress response to childbirth and no visitors and infant separation in the hospital. Mayopoulos GA, Ein-Dor T, Li KG, Chan SJ, Dekel S. Scientific Reports. 2021, 11:1353; doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-92985-4
Association of sexual assault history with traumatic childbirth and subsequent PTSD. Berman Z, Thiel F, Kaimal AJ, Dekel S. Archives of Women’s Mental Health. 2021. DOI: 10.1007/s00737-021-01129-0.
COVID-19 is associated with traumatic childbirth and subsequent mother-infant bonding problems. Mayopoulos GA, Ein-Dor T, Dishy GA, Nandru R, Chan SJ, Hanley LE, Kaimal AJ, Dekel S. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.12.101
Traumatic memories of childbirth relate to maternal postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder. Thiel F, Berman Z, Dishy GA, Chan SJ, Seth H, Tokala M, Pitman RK, Dekel S. Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 2021;77: 102342. DOI: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2020.102342.
Maternal psychological growth following childbirth. Berman Z, Thiel F, Dishy GA, Chan SJ, Dekel S. Archives of Women’s Mental Health. 2020. DOI: 10.1007/s00737-020-01053-9.
Risk factors for developing posttraumatic stress disorder following childbirth. Chan SJ, Ein-Dor T, Mayopoulos P, Mesa M, Sunda R, McCarthy B, Kaimal A, Dekel S. Psychiatry Research. May 2020;290: 113090. 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113090
Beyond postpartum depression: Posttraumatic stress-depressive response following childbirth. Dekel S, Ein-Dor T, Dishy G, Mayopoulos P. Archives of Women’s Mental Health. 2020;23: 557-564. DOI:10.1007/s00737-019-01006-x. PMID: 31650283
Peritraumatic dissociation in childbirth-evoked posttraumatic stress and postpartum mental health. Thiel F, Dekel S. Archives of Women’s Mental Health. 2019; 23: 189-197. PMID: 31115689. DOI: 10.1007/s00737-019-00978-0
Delivery mode is associated with maternal mental health following childbirth. Dekel S, Ein-Dor T, Berman Z, Barsoumian I, Agarwal S, Pitman RK. Archives of Women’s Mental Health. 2019; 22: 817–824. PMID: 31041603. DOI: 10.1007/s00737-019-00968-2
Dynamic course of peripartum depression across pregnancy and childbirth. Dekel S, Ein-Dor T, Ruohomäki, A, Lampi J, Voutilainen S, Tuomainen TP, Heinonen S, Kumpulainen K, Pekkanen J, Keski-Nisula L, Pasanen M, Lehto SM. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2019; 113:72-78. PMID: 30921631.
Is childbirth-induced PTSD associated with low maternal attachment? Dekel S, Thiel F, Dishy G, Ashenfarb A. Archives of Women’s Mental Health. 2019; 22:119-122. PMID: 29786116. DOI: 10.1007/s00737-018-0853-y
Examining symptom clusters of childbirth-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Thiel F, Ein-Dor T, Dishy G, King A, Dekel S. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders. 2018; 20(5). PMID: 30277674.
Differences in cortisol response to trauma activation in individuals with and without comorbid PTSD and depression. Dekel S, Ein-Dor T, Rosen JB, Bonanno GA. Frontiers in Psychology. 2017; 8:797. PMID: 28572779.
Childbirth induced posttraumatic stress syndrome: A systematic review of prevalence and risk factors. Dekel S, Stuebe C, Dishy G. Frontiers in Psychology. 2017; 8:560. PMID: 28443054. DOI: 10.1007/s00737-018-0853-y
Peripartum depression, traditional culture, and Israeli society. Dekel S, Stanger V, Georgakopoulos ER, Stuebe CM, Dishy GA. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2016; 72(8):784-94. PMID: 27487164.
PTSD symptoms lead to modification in the memory of the trauma: a prospective study of former prisoners of war. Dekel S, Solomon Z, Ein-Dor T. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2016; 77(3):e290-6. PMID: 26796992.
Posttraumatic stress disorder and depressive symptoms: joined or independent sequelae of trauma? Dekel S, Solomon Z, Horesh D, Ein-Dor T. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2014; 54:64-9. PMID: 24703578.
Cortisol and PTSD symptoms among male and female high-exposure 9/11 survivors. Dekel S, Ein-Dor T, Gordon KM, Rosen JB, Bonanno GA. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 2013; 26(5):621-5. PMID: 24030869.
Changes in trauma memory and patterns of posttraumatic stress. Dekel S, Bonanno G. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy. 2013; 5(1):26-34.
Secondary salutogenic effects in veterans whose parents were Holocaust survivors? Dekel S, Solomon Z, Rozenstreich E. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2013; 47(2):266-71. PMID: 23168139.
Self-enhancement among high-exposure survivors of the September 11th terrorist attack: resilience or social maladjustment? Bonanno GA, Rennicke C, Dekel S. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2005; 88(6):984-98. PMID:15982117.
Pioneering Psychiatry Research
The integration of patient care and clinical research has been a hallmark of the Department of Psychiatry for more than 30 years. Today, the department has the largest clinical research program in the hospital, with studies at the forefront of neuroscience, molecular biology and genetics.