HomeLifestyleHealth & FitnessWhy pregnant women have lingering depression despite antidepressant use - study reveals

Why pregnant women have lingering depression despite antidepressant use – study reveals

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Perinatal depression and anxiety are common, affecting 20 percent of pregnant and postpartum women. In the United States, an estimated 500,000 pregnancies each year result in women who have or will have psychiatric disorders during pregnancy.

According to a new Northwestern Medicine study, many pregnant women had lasting depression and anxiety symptoms during their pregnancy and postpartum despite using antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).

Anxiety symptoms are prevalent in treated depressed women, according to the study, with some women’s symptoms worsening with time.

This is the first study to examine the various depression and anxiety trajectories in pregnant and postpartum women. During pregnancy, 18 percent of the women had minor depressed symptoms, 50 percent had mild depressive symptoms, and 32 percent had clinically significant depressive symptoms.

“This is the first longitudinal data to show that many pregnant women report depression and anxiety symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum, despite their choice to continue treatment with antidepressants,” says senior author Dr. Katherine Wisner.

“Repeated screenings will allow your clinician to adapt the type and/or intensity of intervention until your symptoms improve,” adds co-author Dr. Catherine Stika as “psychological and psychosocial factors change rapidly across childbearing.”

Depression also impacts a woman’s infant.

“This is key as children exposed to a depressed mother have an increased risk of childhood developmental disorders,” Wisner adds.

Pregnant women on selective serotonin reuptake drugs to treat depression had sub-optimal health, including an elevated BMI, infertility, migraines, thyroid issues, and asthma, according to the new research. A history of eating disorders was linked to a higher risk of depression.

The findings will be published in Psychiatric Research and Clinical Practice on March 4.

Image Credit: Getty

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