Rates of Psychiatric Symptoms Up During Pregnancy With Epilepsy

Rates of depressive and anxiety symptoms increased during pregnancy and postpartum for women with epilepsy

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 17, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Women with epilepsy have increased rates of depressive and anxiety symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum, according to a study published online Aug. 17 in Neurology.

Kimford J. Meador, M.D., from Stanford University in California, and colleagues examined the incidence and factors associated with major depressive episodes (MDE) and symptoms of depression and anxiety among pregnant women with epilepsy (PWWE), healthy pregnant women (HPW), and nonpregnant women with epilepsy (NPWWE) at comparable times (331, 102, and 102 women, respectively).

The researchers observed no difference in the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-diagnosed MDE across the groups, but Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) depressive symptoms were worse in PWWE compared with NPWWE during pregnancy and for PWWE versus HPW and NPWWE during postpartum. Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) anxiety symptoms were worse in PWWE compared with HPW and NPWWE during pregnancy, and they were worse during postpartum for PWWE versus HPW. More than one seizure/90 days, anticonvulsant polytherapy, unplanned pregnancy, and lifetime history of mood disorder were factors associated with MDE during pregnancy. There was an association for suicidal ideation from the BDI or Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale with BAI anxiety symptoms.

“We found that women with epilepsy have increased risk for mood and anxiety disorders during pregnancy,” Meador said in a statement. “This makes it more important to monitor their well-being while they are pregnant.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties, including employment, to the biopharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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