Depression lowers chance of pregnancy: Study

Depression lowers chance of pregnancy: Study

Depression in women is not uncommon. The burden of managing numerous tasks and responsibilities and fighting various challenges of life can increase a woman’s probability of suffering from depression. However, in many cases, women even fail to realize the problem of depression and consider it to be a “normal part of being a woman.”

Women are twice more likely to experience symptoms of depression than men. It has been observed that the women in the age group of 25-44 are among the worst sufferers of the disorder. A recent study by the Boston University (BU) Medical Center suggests that depression can lower the chance of a woman getting pregnant.

The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in May 2016, found a 38 percent decline in the chance of conception in a given menstrual cycle among women who suffered from severe depressive symptoms, as compared to those with no or low symptoms. The results were similar in case of women on psychotropic medications.

Moderate depressive symptoms can also delay conception

Lead author Yael Nillni, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine and a researcher with the National Center for PTSD, Women’s Health Sciences Division of the VA Boston Healthcare System, said, “Our findings suggest that moderate to severe depressive symptoms, regardless of current psychotropic medication treatment, may delay conception.”

There are no evidence-based findings suggesting the possible reason behind why women suffering from depressive symptoms may take more time to conceive. However, depression has been associated with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis imbalance, which effects the menstrual cycle, and thus, the ability to conceive.

The BU-led study known as PRESTO (Pregnancy Study Online) collated data of almost 2,100 women planning to conceive (between the age group of 21-45 years) and closely monitored the factors influencing fertility. The participants were questioned about their current depressive symptoms and related medication use, if any.

Approximately 22 percent were reported to be suffering from clinical depression in the past, with 17.2 percent having history of psychotropic medication, and 10.3 percent using psychotropic drugs.

In addition, the current use of benzodiazepines was also linked with a lowered fecundability. Also, women with previous history of using antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), had an increased probability of getting pregnant despite depressive symptoms.

Almost 10-15 percent couples in the U.S. suffer from infertility. This results in a higher prevalence of depressive and anxiety disorders among women, particularly during their childbearing years. Some 10-15 percent new mothers get postpartum depression that can affect women within the first year of child birth.

If left untreated, illnesses like anxiety and depression can result in suicidal tendencies. Unfortunately, women are twice more likely to attempt suicide as compared to their male counterparts.

Ways to lead a happy life

Only less than half of the women suffering from clinical depression seek medical help. Even those who do so are at a high risk of being misdiagnosed. Attitude of society and women are some of the major barriers in diagnosing mental issues and seeking treatment for them. More than half of women believe it is “normal” to be depressed during menopause or post child-birth and consider it to be a normal part of aging. Some struggle in denial, while some other believe they know everything about the issue.

If you or your loved one is struggling with any kind of mental illness, you may get in touch with the Sovereign Mental Health Services to know about various mental health centers. Chat online with mental health experts today or call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 for further information about mental health facilities.


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