It may be more difficult for pregnant women to come out of depression. Rather, women who suffer from major depression are at significantly higher risk of relapse if they stop taking their antidepressant medications during pregnancy. This study is published in the recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. After studying 201 pregnant women who had a history of depression but were not currently depressed, Researchers at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital concluded on these findings. 26 percent of the patients, who continued taking their medication, had a relapse. And of those who stopped taking antidepressants, 68 percent relapsed! The study authors noted, ‘the findings dispute the common belief that hormonal changes during pregnancy can be “protective” and fend off depression’.
Fewer men fall victim to depression than women. Several gene variants linked to depression are found to occur only in women, according to researchers. A study said that the findings also include a gene variant related to female hormone regulation. It is found globally that twice as many women as men are handling depression. And at some time in her life, one out of eight women have an episode of major depression, according to the May issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. Some of the major factors to be blames for this disease are genetics, acknowledgment of symptoms, stress, premenstrual disturbances and pregnancy. It is ‘heredity’ that accounts for up to 50 per cent of the risk for depression.
Stress hormone cortisol, if in high levels, may cause early pregnancy loss. This is suggested by a small study of women in rural Guatemala. Compared to mothers who did not show increases in stress hormones, mothers who suffer stress were almost three times more likely to have a miscarriage. It is in the first three weeks after conception that most miscarriages probably occur. It is during this time, when the placenta develops. But it is hard to study, as women seldom even know they are pregnant during this time! Most knowledge of pregnancy loss relates to what happens after about the sixth week.
It’s true that if antidepressants are taken during pregnancy, they have direct effect on fetus but the fact that we generally ignore and are not aware of is that depression during Pregnancy affects the baby as well. Study done by American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry shows: Babies born to women with untreated major depressive disorder had significant changes in neurobehavioral function, were born at an earlier gestational age, and had elevated stress hormones… The conclusion of the study shows that infants of high risk women will have: (1) Poorer quality of movement (-0.36 versus -0.26 low risk, P=0.07) (2) More hypotonia (0.49 versus -0.22 low risk, P>0.01) (3) Higher stress scores (0.56 versus 0.13 low risk, P>0.003).
Girl babies born underweight, means weighting less than 2,500 grams, are more prone to depression, especially when they enter the ambit of teenage. A new study reveals after going through an intensive study, which tracked about 1,420 boys and girls, ages 9 to 16. According to this study, girls born underweight among them 38.1 per cent experienced at least one episode of depression between the ages of 13 to 16. While the percentage of depression-struck girls, born normal weight was just 8.4 per cent. Interestingly, association between underweight-born boys and depression was no as firm as was in the boys. Uncovering the importance of this study Elizabeth Jane Costello of Duke University Medical School in Durham, N.C., and her colleagues remarked: The findings suggest that pediatricians and parents of girls who were of low birth weight should pay close attention to their mental health as they enter puberty. It means that pregnant moms should take special care of their unborn babies; otherwise, on entering teenage they may also be engulfed by the spate of depression, which is already thrashing the whole world.