Study Disproves the "Pregnant and Happy" Myth

Published Online: Saturday, April 1, 2006

The popular myth that the surge of hormones that pregnant women experience keeps them "happy and glowing" has been busted. A recent study shows that pregnant women who stop taking antidepressants run a high risk of slipping back into depression. Although the study offers new information about the coexisting conditions, it does not give clear instructions for expectant mothers who must balance the risk of antidepressants to their babies and the danger of untreated depression.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital studied 201 pregnant women with histories of major depression who were taking antidepressants. The researchers did not dictate to the women whether or not to stop taking the drugs during pregnancy; rather, the women decided for themselves, and the researchers observed the results.

The study showed that 68% of those who stopped taking the drugs slipped into depression, being 5 times more likely to suffer a depressive relapse than those who remained on the medication. But the drugs did not offer complete protection; 26% of those who continued taking the drugs became depressed anyway. The study results were reported in the February 1, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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