Every week we review the most recent publications in women’s mental health, covering topics related to premenstrual symptoms, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, use of medications in pregnant and breastfeeding women, perinatal substance use, and menopausal mental health. 

For more detailed descriptions of many of these topics, you can sign up to receive our weekly CWMH NEWSLETTER which comes out every Thursday.  

And don’t forget to visit ESSENTIAL READS – a curated selection of up-to-date and clinically relevant articles in women’s mental health.

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD




No articles this week



Effectiveness of progressive muscle relaxation and laughter therapy on mental health and treatment outcomes in women undergoing in vitro fertilization: A randomized controlled trial.

Kiyak S, Kocoglu-Tanyer D.  Res Nurs Health. 2021 Oct 3.

Women receiving IVF treatment who received progressive muscle relaxation and laughter therapy demonstrated psychological changes; however, the treatment did not affect medical outcomes.



Parity and Psychosocial Risk Factors Increase the Risk of Depression During Pregnancy Among Recent Immigrant Women in Canada.

Vaillancourt M, Lane V, Ditto B, Da Costa D.  J Immigr Minor Health. 2021 Sep 30. 

The prevalence of depressive symptoms was highest for recent immigrant (25.3-30.8%) compared to long-term immigrant (16.9-19.2%) and Canadian-born women (11.7-13.8%). Among recent immigrants, multiparity, higher stress and pregnancy-specific anxiety in early pregnancy increased the risk of antenatal depression. 


Untreated Depression During Pregnancy and Its Effect on Pregnancy Outcomes: A Systematic Review.

Jahan N, Went TR, Sultan W, Sapkota A, Khurshid H, Qureshi IA, Alfonso M.  Cureus. 2021 Aug 17;13(8):e17251. Free article. 

Untreated maternal depression during pregnancy is associated with preterm birth, small for gestational age, stillbirth, low birth weight, and maternal morbidity including perinatal complications, increased operative delivery, and postpartum depression. 


Divorce or Separation Following Postpartum Psychiatric Episodes: A Population-Based Cohort Study.

Johannsen BMW, Mægbæk ML, Bech BH, Laursen TM, Munk-Olsen T. J Clin Psychiatry. 2021 Mar 23;82(3):20m13555.

Compared to mothers without postpartum psychiatric illness, women with mild/moderate PP illness had a significantly higher probability of later divorce (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] = 1.23; 95% CI, 1.15-1.31); for women with severe PP illness, the probability was even greater (adjusted HR = 1.64; 95% CI, 1.45-1.85).


Maternal depressive symptoms and stress during pregnancy as predictors of gestational age at birth and standardized body mass index from birth up to 2?years of age.

Eichler J, Schmidt R, Poulain T, Hiemisch A, Kiess W, Hilbert A.  BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2021 Sep 18;21(1):635. Free article.

Depressive symptoms and stress during pregnancy seem to differentially affect birth outcomes, and only if clinically relevant. Depressive symptoms predicted a higher child BMI, categorical stress significantly predicted a lower gestational age at birth. 


Association Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes.

Miller ES, Fleming O, Ekpe EE, Grobman WA, Heard-Garris N.  Obstet Gynecol. 2021 Oct 7. 

Adverse childhood experience (ACE) scores were not associated with gestational diabetes or SGA births. After controlling for potential confounders, individuals with high ACE score had 1.55-fold (95% CI 1.06-2.26) increased odds of having hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and 2.03-fold (95% CI 1.38-2.99) increased odds of preterm birth. 



No articles this week



Estimation of postpartum depression risk from electronic health records using machine learning.

Amit G, Girshovitz I, Marcus K, Zhang Y, Pathak J, Bar V, Akiva P.  BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2021 Sep 17;21(1):630. Free article.

PPD risk prediction using EHR data may provide a complementary quantitative and objective tool for PPD screening, allowing earlier (pre-pregnancy) and more accurate identification of women at risk, timely interventions and potentially improved outcomes for the mother and child.


Predictors of Early Postpartum Maternal Functioning Among Women Veterans.

Goger P, Szpunar MJ, Baca SA, Gartstein MA, Lang AJ.  Matern Child Health J. 2021 Oct 9. 

Pregnancy-associated anxiety was a more robust predictor of postpartum depression (PPD) than depression during pregnancy. PPD, in turn, was significantly associated with bonding and parenting stress, such that more depressed mothers were more likely to experience greater general bonding difficulties, increased rejections and pathological anger towards their infants, greater anxiety towards their infants, and more parenting stress.


Generational differences in the prevalence of postpartum depression among young Australians: a comparison of two cohorts born 17 years apart.

Cao S, Jones M, Tooth L, Mishra GD.  Arch Womens Ment Health. 2021 Sep 15.

The higher prevalence of PPD in the recent generation appears to be mainly due to the high prevalence of depression. 


Are pregnancy and postpartum oxytocin level a predictive biomarker for postpartum depression?

Cevik A, Alan S.  J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2021 Sep 20.

Lower oxytocin levels in late pregnancy could be a predictive biomarker for postpartum depression. 


Oestrogen therapy for postpartum depression: efficacy and adverse effects. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study.

Kettunen P, Koistinen E, Hintikka J, Perheentupa A.  Nord J Psychiatry. 2021 Sep 17:1-10.

In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, women with PPD were treated with sublingual estradiol hemihydrate (1-3 mg/day) or placebo for 12 weeks.  There was no evidence to suggest that estradiol was more effective than placebo. 


A Social Media Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Intervention to Prevent Depression in Perinatal Youth: Stakeholder Interviews and Intervention Design.

Gewali A, Lopez A, Dachelet K, Healy E, Jean-Baptiste M, Harridan H, Evans Y, Unger JA, Bhat A, Tandon D, Ronen K.  JMIR Ment Health. 2021 Sep 15;8(9):e26188. Free article.

This research is focused on developing the Interactive Maternal Group for Information and Emotional Support (IMAGINE) intervention, a facilitated social media group CBT intervention to prevent perinatal depression in youth in the United States, by adapting the Mothers and Babies (MB) course, an evidence-based in-person group CBT intervention. Youth and health care workers described stigma associated with young pregnancy and parenting, social isolation, and lack of material resources as significant challenges to youth mental wellness. They identified nonjudgmental support, peer companionship, and access to step-by-step guidance as facilitators of youth mental wellness. They endorsed the use of a social media group to prevent perinatal depression and recommended that IMAGINE facilitate peer support, deliver content asynchronously to accommodate varied schedules, use a confidential platform, and facilitate the discussion of topics beyond the MB curriculum, such as navigating support resources or asking medical questions. 


Brexanolone, a GABAA Modulator, in the Treatment of Postpartum Depression in Adults: A Comprehensive Review.

Edinoff AN, Odisho AS, Lewis K, Kaskas A, Hunt G, Cornett EM, Kaye AD, Kaye A, Morgan J, Barrilleaux PS, Lewis D, Viswanath O, Urits I.  Front Psychiatry. 2021 Sep 14;12:699740. Free article. Review.



No articles this week



Resting state functional MRI in infants with prenatal opioid exposure-a pilot study.

Radhakrishnan R, Elsaid NMH, Sadhasivam S, Reher TA, Hines AC, Yoder KK, Saykin AJ, Wu YC.  Neuroradiology. 2021 Apr;63(4):585-591.

The finding of increased amygdala functional connectivity in infants with in utero opioid exposure suggests a potential role of maternal opioid exposure on infants’ altered amygdala function.



Parental Sensitivity and Responsiveness as Mediators Between Postpartum Mental Health and Bonding in Mothers and Fathers.

Naki? Radoš S.  Front Psychiatry. 2021 Sep 1;12:723418. Free article.

Higher levels of parental mental health problems (depression and anxiety) were associated with lower levels of parental responsiveness, which is, in turn, related to poor parent-infant bonding.



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