Depression could possibly affect pregnancy
The modern age is the age of mental illness epidemic. With millions suffering from depression worldwide, this illness is the leading cause of disability, especially in the developed countries. Women tend to be at higher risk, but both genders are affected. Depression influences every aspect of life of the patients and the people surrounding them, leaving severe consequences to physical health, social life and finances.
Harmful effect on fertility
As the recent research showed, depression leaves consequences to women’s fertility too. Namely, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published the study conducted by Boston University Schools of Public Health exploring the effect of depression on women’s probability of conception, as well as the influence of antidepressant therapy.
High-risk of pregnancy dropdown
Leading author Yael Nillni and the team of scientists observed over 2100 women ages 21 to 45 years, who were planning pregnancy. The study analyzed data about various factors affecting fertility, focusing on reported depressive symptoms, their severity and the previous and current use of psychotropic medications. The results revealed almost 40 percent decreased chances of getting pregnant during given menstrual cycle among women who showed severe symptoms and tough clinical presentation of depression compared to the women who reported mild, low or no symptoms at all.
Psychotropic medications have no effect on fertility
Since many participants reported previous or current use of antidepressive therapy including various groups of psychotropic drugs, the study analyzed the data in order to determine the effect of treatment on fertility. The results showed that women with severe symptoms were at higher risk of infertility regardless of used medications. It seems that depression itself influences chances of getting pregnant negatively and it appears that psychotropic treatment don’t interfere with fertility status.
Depression influence levels of hormones
What study didn’t reveal are causes. The higher risk of infertility is determined among severely depressive women, but the mechanisms and connection between depression and conception is still unknown. The assumptions suggest that depression leads to abnormal levels of hormones and disregulation of the function of hypothalamic – pituitary – adrenal glands axial link which is significantly involved in control and regulation of normal menstrual cycle and ovulation.
Cortical centers as the core of the depression process
Normal menstrual cycle is primary condition for conception and the cycle is controlled by several hormones. The normal secretion of these hormones is under the control of some higher centers in the brain, including cortical centers involved with the control of mood, thinking process and affection.
A small percent of exceptions
The only exceptions were found among patients who used benzodiazepines and SSRIs. Benzodiazepines, the group of medications used to treat the symptoms of anxiety, are found to be associated with slightly decreased chances of getting pregnant. On the other hand, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors affect fertility in a positive way, increasing chances for conception during particular menstrual cycle.
The future researches are promising
The exact mechanism is yet to be studied and revealed. The future researches could affect the lives of many women and approximately 15 percent of USA couples fighting infertility.
What already affected women can do?
Meanwhile, women with severe symptoms are advised to follow psychotropic treatment strictly in order to suppress the symptoms of depression and maintain average chances of getting pregnant, despite the following illness.