News & Commentary

Younger Women Battling Depression

Roughly one in 20 women of childbearing age suffer from major depression, according to a study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, and the Stanford researchers who conducted the study say women in that age group need to be better screened and treated for the condition.

“Given that 54% of women with depression before pregnancy have depression during pregnancy, and that 50% of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, better diagnosis and treatment of nonpregnant women with depression may reduce the burden of perinatal mental illness,” wrote lead author Nan Guo and her colleagues.

Researchers looked at 3,705 nonpregnant women of childbearing age from 2007 to 2014 using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Many women in the age group were not taking anti­depressants.

The antidepressants most commonly used by women with major depression were selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (21.3%), phenylpiperazines (8.4%), and serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (7.2%), the study states.

Researchers were unable to estimate how women recently diagnosed with depression responded to treatment. Also, antidepressants can be used for conditions other than depression, such as insomnia and urinary incontinence.

Women without private health insurance had a 2.5-fold increased risk of major depression. Researchers stated that prior research indicates that patients with mental health problems are more likely to be uninsured and that their “data showed a similar trend, but these associations were not statistically significant.”


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