Contrary to common belief that the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy provide a protective effect against depression, women with major depression who discontinue antidepressant medication during pregnancy are at risk of relapse.
In a study published in the February 1 issue of JAMA, Lee Cohen of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School conducted a study to determine the risk of relapse in pregnant women with major depression who discontinue or attempted to discontinue antidepressant medication close to conception compared with those who maintained treatment with these medications.
The study included a total of 201 pregnant women who enrolled between March 1999 and April 2003 at three centres with specific expertise in the treatment of psychiatric illness during pregnancy. The participants had a history of major depression prior to pregnancy, were less than 16 weeks’ gestation, and were currently or recently (less than 12 weeks prior to last menstrual period) receiving antidepressant medication.
The researchers found that 43% of women in the sample relapsed during pregnancy, and half of those relapsed during the first trimester. Among women who maintained their medication throughout the pregnancy, 26% relapsed compared with 68% of those who discontinued their medication.
Health industry news from the publishers of Medical Chronicle 01 February 2006