August 23, 2022

Pregnant Women with Epilepsy Have More Depression, Anxiety Symptoms

Article published by EurekAlert!

Pregnant women with epilepsy have more symptoms of depression and anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum than pregnant women who do not have epilepsy or women with epilepsy who are not pregnant, according to a study published in the August 17, 2022, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“The good news is we did not find that pregnant women with epilepsy were any more likely to have episodes of major depression than the other two groups,” said study author Kimford J. Meador, MD, of the Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. “However, these results underscore the importance of regularly screening pregnant women with epilepsy for any signs of depression or anxiety and providing effective treatment.”

The study involved 331 pregnant women with epilepsy, 102 pregnant women who did not have epilepsy and 102 women with epilepsy who were not pregnant. The pregnant women had study visits during each trimester, around the time of delivery and every three months through nine months postpartum. The women who were not pregnant had visits at comparable time points. At every visit, the women were screened for depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders.

There was no difference among the groups in episodes of major depression. However, pregnant women with epilepsy were more likely to have symptoms of depression during pregnancy than the women with epilepsy who were not pregnant had during the same time period. Postpartum, they were more likely to have symptoms of depression than both of the other groups.