Pregnancy-Linked Depression: A Silent Danger

Swedish research shows that depression during pregnancy significantly increases a woman's risk of suicide for many years.

Depression during pregnancy increases the risk of suicide long after giving birth.

By Ernie Mundell, HealthDay Reporter

News Picture: Pregnancy-Linked Depression Raises Odds for Suicide Years After Delivery

Did you know that depression during pregnancy can raise a woman’s risk for suicide, not just in the short-term but even years later? A new study from Sweden has shed light on this alarming trend, highlighting the need for increased awareness and support for women experiencing perinatal depression (source). Let’s dive deeper into the findings and explore the long-term implications of pregnancy-linked depression.

The Long Shadow of Perinatal Depression

Perinatal depression, which refers to depression that arises just before, during, or after pregnancy, is a serious concern that affects millions of women worldwide. While we already knew that the risk of suicide increases in the weeks and months after a woman experiences perinatal depression, this study reveals that the risk stays elevated for as long as five to 18 years after delivery (source). Dr. Songhao Lu and his team from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm uncovered this unsettling truth based on an analysis of Swedish national health data spanning from 2001 to 2017.

The Scope of the Problem

The risk of suicide for women with perinatal depression was found to be more than double that of women unaffected by the illness, even years after delivery. This indicates that perinatal depression leaves a lasting impact on a woman’s mental health (source). It’s important to note that this increased risk was observed regardless of familial or genetic factors, suggesting that perinatal depression itself plays a significant role in raising the suicide risk for women. This finding emphasizes the urgency of providing proper support and intervention for women experiencing perinatal depression (source).

Unveiling the Silent Struggle

One of the most troubling aspects of this issue is the silent nature of perinatal depression. Many women suffer in silence, afraid to ask for help or burden others with their struggles. The consequences can be devastating, not just for the mother but also for the newborn and the entire family (source). These invisible battles need to be brought into the light so that women feel supported and understood during this vulnerable period in their lives.

Seeking Solutions

To address this pressing issue, it is crucial for healthcare providers, family members, and society as a whole to be more vigilant and proactive. A combination of clinical monitoring and interventions can greatly reduce the risk of suicide for women with perinatal depression (source). Health care clinicians should also be attentive to the potential misuse of antidepressant medications, as these women are often prescribed these drugs (source).

Q&A: More on Pregnancy-Linked Depression

Q: How common is perinatal depression?

A: Perinatal depression is a prevalent mental health condition affecting many women worldwide during the perinatal period, which includes pregnancy and the immediate postpartum period. It is estimated that around 10-15% of women experience depression during pregnancy or in the year after childbirth (source).

Q: Are there any specific risk factors for perinatal depression?

A: Several factors can contribute to the development of perinatal depression, including a history of depression or anxiety, previous pregnancy complications, a lack of social support, and financial stress. Hormonal changes, sleep disturbances, and the physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth can also play a role (source).

Q: How can perinatal depression be treated?

A: Treatment options for perinatal depression include therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy) and medication, in severe cases. It’s important for women to seek help from healthcare professionals who specialize in perinatal mental health to develop an individualized treatment plan (source).


Perinatal depression is not just a temporary condition that women can easily overcome. It can have long-lasting effects on their mental health, significantly increasing the risk of suicide for years after giving birth (source). By raising awareness, providing support, and implementing effective interventions, we can help women navigate this challenging period in their lives and prevent the devastating consequences associated with pregnancy-linked depression.

Remember, if you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis, immediate help is available at the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.