A recent study examined the prevalence and risk factors for perinatal depression and anxiety in a group of Norwegian women with epilepsy (n = 706) compared to pregnancies in all women without epilepsy (n = 106,511).

Women with epilepsy were more likely to have peripartum depression (26.7%) or anxiety (22.4%) than women without epilepsy (18.9% and 14.8%).  Women using anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) during pregnancy were at highest risk regardless of AED type. The risk was further increased with the use of multiple AEDs and with high dose.

Risk factors associated with peripartum depression and/or anxiety in women with epilepsy included high seizure frequency, a history of physical and/or sexual abuse, adverse socioeconomic factors, previous loss of a child, AED use, unplanned pregnancy, and prepregnancy depression and/or anxiety.

This study indicates that women with epilepsy frequently have depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy.  Interestingly, depressed women with epilepsy were less frequently treated with antidepressants during pregnancy than women without epilepsy.


Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD



Bjørk MH, Veiby G, Reiter SC, et al. Depression and anxiety in women with epilepsy during pregnancy and after delivery: A prospective population-based cohort study on frequency, risk factors, medication, and prognosis. Epilepsia. 2014 Dec 19.  [Epub ahead of print]

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