Pregnancy and the postpartum period are more depressive and anxious period for women with epilepsy

According to a study published in the online edition of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, on August 17, 2022, pregnant women with epilepsy exhibit more symptoms of depression and anxiety both during pregnancy and after delivery than pregnant women without epilepsy or women with epilepsy who are not pregnant.

The study included 331 pregnant epileptics, 102 pregnant epileptics, and 102 pregnant epileptics who were not pregnant. Every trimester of pregnancy, the time of delivery, and every three months through nine months after giving birth, the expectant women underwent research visits.

The appointments for the non-pregnant women took place at roughly the same times. The women underwent screenings for depression, anxiety, and other conditions at each visit.

The groups did not differ in terms of major depressive episode frequency. However, compared to women with epilepsy who were not pregnant, pregnant women with epilepsy were more likely to experience depression-related symptoms during pregnancy. They were more susceptible to postpartum depressive symptoms than either of the other groups.

When tested for depression symptoms during pregnancy, women with epilepsy scored an average of 7 points, compared to 6 points for pregnant women without epilepsy and 5 points for non-pregnant women with epilepsy. Mild mood disturbance is indicated by scores of 10 or above.

Pregnant women with epilepsy experienced more anxiety symptoms than either of the other groups.

Compared to pregnant women without epilepsy, they were higher after delivery.

On a measure of anxiety symptoms during pregnancy, the women with epilepsy had an average score of 6 points, compared to 5 points for both other groups. Anxiety levels of 8 or above are considered modest.

Despite the result that pregnant women with epilepsy did not have a greater incidence of major depression, researchers did uncover risk factors for major depression.

Major depressive episodes were more likely to occur during pregnancy or postpartum in women who had more than one seizure in the previous three months, were using more than one epilepsy medication, had an unexpected pregnancy, or had a history of mood problems.

“Depression is frequently underrecognized in individuals with epilepsy, yet we know that effective management of depression can improve individuals’ quality of life and their overall outcomes for epilepsy treatment,” said Meador. “Therefore, women with epilepsy should be monitored closely during pregnancy and evaluated when they are thinking about planning a pregnancy.”

Despite the study’s size, he pointed out that there weren’t enough women included for researchers to thoroughly assess how different epilepsy drugs affected depressive and phobic symptoms.

Another drawback is that women could forget symptoms that they had between study sessions.

The National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development provided financial support for the study.

American Academy of Neurology

Journal reference:
Kanner, A.M., (2022) Can the Development of Mood and Anxiety Disorders During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period Be Anticipated in Women With Epilepsy?. Neurology.

Leave a Reply

error: Content is protected !!
Open chat
WhatsApp Now