Pregnancy Does Not Increase Risk of Most Mental Illnesses

But some groups of women have high prevalence of psychiatric disorders in pregnancy and postpartum period

TUESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- Although certain groups of women have a high prevalence of psychiatric disorders, pregnancy does not in itself increase the risk of most mental illnesses, according to a report published in the July issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Oriana Vesga-Lopez, M.D., of the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which was based on face-to-face interviews with 43,093 people, of whom 14,549 were women aged 18 to 50 years and among whom the past-year pregnancy status was known.

The risk of having any mood disorder was lower among pregnant women than their non-pregnant counterparts, but there was a higher prevalence of major depressive disorder among postpartum women versus non-pregnant women, the investigators found. The researchers also found that regardless of pregnancy status, most women with a psychiatric disorder had not received any mental health care within the previous year.

"Past-year treatment seeking for any 12-month mood disorder in past-year pregnant and postpartum women and for any 12-month anxiety disorder in past-year pregnant women, was significantly lower than in non-pregnant women of childbearing age," the authors write. "Given the critical importance of this life period for mothers and their offspring, urgent action is needed to increase detection and treatment of psychiatric disorders among pregnant and postpartum women in the United States."

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