1 in 20 Younger Women Suffers Major Depression

From Drugs.com - March 12, 2018

1 in 20 Younger Women Suffers Major Depression

MONDAY, March 12, 2018 -- Depression is a big problem in women during and after pregnancy, but it's also a concern throughout the reproductive years.

Now, new research reports that nearly 5 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 44 have struggled with major depression.

And another 4 percent of women in that age group have experienced minor depression.

But neither group is getting adequate care for the condition. Less than one third of women with major depression were being treated with antidepressants. For those with minor depression, only 20 percent had been given an antidepressant.

"Depression impacts women of childbearing years who are not pregnant," said study senior author Dr. Alexander Butwick. He's an associate professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

"By improving awareness of depression in the reproductive years, we may be able to better optimize care before a woman gets pregnant. We can get appropriate counseling and treatment in place before pregnancy, which may help mitigate depression during pregnancy," Butwick said.

Nearly 13 percent of women experience major depression during pregnancy, according to the researchers. Depression during pregnancy has been linked to several serious outcomes, including the mother's self-harm or suicide, diminished growth in the baby, early delivery and inadequate mother-child bonding.

More than half of women who have depression during pregnancy also had depression before pregnancy, the researchers noted. So getting a treatment plan in place beforehand would be ideal.

But about half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned. That's why the study authors wanted to see how many women are dealing with depression during their reproductive years.

"Depression, if uncontrolled, may have an impact on a woman and her pregnancy outcome. If you are aware of a problem beforehand, you have the luxury of time to plan," Butwick said.

The study included data from a nationally representative survey of health and nutritional status in the United States. The data is continuously collected in two-year cycles. For this study, the researchers looked at 2007 to 2014.

The survey included nine questions to determine depression, ranging from "Do you feel tired or have little energy?" to "Do you have thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way?"

Major depression required participants to have five or more depressive symptoms more than half the days in the past two weeks, while minor depression involved fewer than five, according to the study.

Continue reading at Drugs.com »