Half of all pregnant women who experience depression do not get any treatment, and some may turn to alcohol, marijuana, and opioids to self-medicate, a study of national data found.
The research, which was published this month in Psychiatric Services in Advance, involved responses from 12,360 women to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2011 and 2016. Researchers compared responses for pregnant and nonpregnant women between the ages of 18 and 44, all of whom had an episode of major depression.
They found 51 percent of pregnant women and 43 percent of nonpregnant women did not get any treatment for depression.
“In general, treatment rates are very, very low,” said Maria X. Sanmartin, a coauthor of the study and assistant professor of health professions at Hofstra University.
But pregnant women seem to be particularly underserved. Even among those who did get some treatment, pregnant women were significantly more likely to say it was not enough to meet their needs.
“What we would expect is that pregnant women are visiting the ob-gyn more and they should have more opportunities to see a psychologist or psychiatrist,” Sanmartin said. “But that is not what we found.”
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