Women with autoimmune diseases at higher risk of pregnancy-linked depression, study finds

Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered a potential link between autoimmune diseases and depression during pregnancy and after childbirth. The study, published in the “Molecular Psychiatry” journal, suggests a bidirectional association between perinatal depression and autoimmune diseases.

The study, which analyzed data from the Swedish Medical Birth Register, found that women with autoimmune diseases were more likely to experience depression during pregnancy and after delivery. Conversely, women with a history of perinatal depression were at a higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases .

The researchers observed that the association between perinatal depression and autoimmune diseases was strongest for multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease. This association was particularly pronounced among women without previous psychiatric diagnoses.

The study suggests that there may be an immunological mechanism underlying perinatal depression. The researchers propose that autoimmune diseases should be considered a risk factor for this type of depression.

Depression during pregnancy can have serious consequences for both the mother and the baby. The researchers hope that their findings will lead to increased funding for maternal healthcare, enabling more women to receive timely help and support.