Women with depression during, after pregnancy face elevated suicide risk, separate studies show

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Women who suffer from depression during or after a pregnancy are at an elevated risk for suicide, two recent studies found.

The first study, published Tuesday in the JAMA Network Open journal, found that women with perinatal depression (PND) were three times as likely to have suicidal behavior. The study found that the risk was especially high among mothers with postnatal depression and the first year after diagnosis.

The first study also noted that the risk of suicidal behavior remained elevated for 18 years after the diagnosis. It also found that a history of psychiatric disorders did not affect whether these women were more likely to develop suicidal behavior, which the researchers defined as an attempted or completed suicide.

The study had analyzed 952,061 women with 18 years of follow-up for their analysis.

“It is not surprising that the risk of suicidal behavior peaked right after PND diagnosis, given the ongoing episode or symptoms at diagnosis. This finding highlights the urgent need to actively monitor suicidality among women who recently received a diagnosis of PND,” the study states.

The second study was published Wednesday in BMJ and found that women diagnosed with perinatal depression had an increased risk of death by suicide. The research found that women with perinatal depression had a three times higher risk of death than women who did not.

“Even when accounting for familial factors, women with clinically diagnosed perinatal depression were associated with an increased risk of death, particularly during the first year after diagnosis and because of suicide,” the study stated. “Women who are affected, their families, and health professionals should be aware of these severe health hazards after perinatal depression.”

The two studies were first highlighted in The New York Times.

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