Medhealth Review

Women With Epilepsy May Experience Anxiety During Pregnancy

A recent study discovered that pregnant women with epilepsy were more likely than their peers who were not pregnant or did not have epilepsy to experience anxiety and depression.

Dr. Kimford Meador, a neurology professor at Stanford University School of Medicine and an American Academy of Neurology fellow, said, “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.” 

“However, these results underscore the importance of regularly screening pregnant women with epilepsy for any signs of depression or anxiety and providing effective treatment,” he said.

The new study included 331 pregnant epileptic women, 102 pregnant epileptic women, and 102 non-pregnant epileptic women.

The pregnant women were evaluated for depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders during each trimester of pregnancy, as well as every three months until nine months after delivery. The researchers saw the non-pregnant women at similar intervals.

They discovered that pregnant women with epilepsy were more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression than women with epilepsy who were not pregnant. They were more likely than the other two groups to experience postpartum depression.

When compared to pregnant women without epilepsy, pregnant women with epilepsy scored an average of 7 on a test of depression symptoms. Women with epilepsy who were not pregnant received a score of 5 on average. A score of 10 or higher indicates that you have a mild case of mood disorder.

Furthermore, pregnant epileptic women displayed more anxiety than either of the other groups. They outperformed the other groups on an anxiety symptoms test, receiving a score of 6. An anxiety score of 8 or higher indicates moderate anxiety.

“Depression is often under-recognized in people with epilepsy, yet we know that effective management of depression can improve people’s quality of life and their overall outcomes for epilepsy treatment, so women with epilepsy should be monitored closely during pregnancy and evaluated when they are thinking about planning a pregnancy,” Meador said in a journal news release.

The researchers acknowledged the study’s limitations. A thorough examination of how each epilepsy medication affected anxiety and depressive symptoms was not possible due to a lack of female participants. They also noted that participants may not have remembered symptoms that manifested themselves between study visits.

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