Pregnancy and Depression

Updated: Dec 3, 2018

Women are almost 2 times more likely to suffer from Major Depression than men.

In any given year, about 12% of women are struggling with Major Depression.

Over the course of their lifetime, about 20% of women will experience Major Depression.


Depression in women is most likely to occur between "age 10" and "mid-life", which basically encompasses the years during which women may become pregnant.


At any given time, about 15% of pregnant women will experience Major Depression


Now:

Imagine a scenario wherein a woman with depression is successfully treated with an Antidepressant Medication. She's doing well and has no side-effects or problems related to the medication. She is not pregnant.

  • About 18% of time time, the Depression will come back again (even if the Antidepressant Medication is continued).

  • What if somebody secretly swapped out the Antidepressant Medication for a Placebo? So, instead of taking the Antidepressant Medication each morning, the woman is unknowingly taking an inactive pill that has no therapeutic value. In this case, the risk of the Depression coming back again jumps up to 41%.

What if the woman is pregnant?

  • About 26% of the time, the Depression will come back again (even if the Antidepressant Medication is continued). The risk of having the depression come back again is higher for pregnant women than it is for non-pregnant women.

  • There are no studies looking at a scenario of "What if someone swapped out a pregnant woman's antidepressant medication for a placebo". Researchers are generally inclined not to conduct such studies on pregnant women.

  • But, what if the pregnant woman (with successfully treated depression) decides to stop taking the Antidepressant Medication during her pregnancy? Perhaps due to concerns that the medication may pose a risk to the developing baby. The risk of that woman's depression coming back again ranges from 68 - 76%. Yikes. The risk of the depression coming back again would be 40 - 50% lower if she had continued to take the Antidepressant Medication.


The Moral of this Story:

  • Pregnancy and Depression can and do occur at the same time.

  • Women who have already had Major Depression are at greater risk of the Depression coming back again when they are pregnant.

  • When deciding whether or not to take an Antidepressant Medication during the course of pregnancy, it is super important to carefully weigh the potential benefits of the treatment against the potential risks.

I look forward to writing more about those benefits and risks in a future post.

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