Severe depressive symptoms can decrease your chances of becoming pregnant, says a study.
The study found a 38 percent decrease in the average probability of conception in a given menstrual cycle among women who reported severe depressive symptoms, compared to those with no or low symptoms.
The results were similar, regardless of whether the women were on psychotropic medications.
Despite associations in prior studies between infertility and the use of antidepressants, antipsychotics or mood stabilisers among already infertile women, “current use of psychotropic medications did not appear to harm the probability of conception,” said lead author Yael Nillni, an assistant professor at Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine in the US.
“Our findings suggest that moderate to severe depressive symptoms, regardless of current psychotropic medication treatment, may delay conception,” Nillni said.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Although the study does not answer why women with more depressive symptoms may take longer to become pregnant, the authors noted several potential mechanisms.
Depression has been associated with dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which may influence the menstrual cycle and affect the ability to conceive, for example.
Data for the study came from more than 2,100 female pregnancy planners, ages 21-45 years, enrolled in a study known as PRESTO (Pregnancy Study Online) that is looking at factors influencing fertility.
The participants were asked to report their current depressive symptoms and psychotropic medication use, among many other factors.