Here's some interesting news if you're a woman who's anxious or depressed and planning to undergo fertility treatments: According to a new study, depression and anxiety—and not necessarily the use of antidepressents—may be linked with a reduced chance of getting pregnant after IVF.
Until now, little has been known about the effect of antidepressants on fertility and the ability to get pregnant. This study, which involved more than 23,000 women, is the largest so far to look for connections. Researchers used data on all IVF procedures performed in Sweden from 2007 to the present, then linked it to information on depression, anxiety and antidepressant prescriptions from the Swedish Patient and Prescribed Drug Registers.
A little more than 4 percent of the women in the study had a depression or anxiety diagnosis in the two years before the start of their IVF cycle and/or an antidepressant dispensation in the six months before. So the researchers compared the rates of pregnancy, live birth, and miscarriage in these women to the rates in women who did not have a diagnosis or antidepressant dispensation.
"We found that women undergoing their first IVF treatment who either had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety or had been dispensed an antidepressant had lower rates of pregnancy and live birth rates compared to women who did not suffer from these conditions or take antidepressants before beginning their IVF treatment," said study author Carolyn Cesta. "Importantly, we found that women with a depression or anxiety diagnosis without a prescription of antidepressants had an even lower chance of becoming pregnant or having a live birth."
And here's something else: In the group of women taking SSRIs (the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant) there was no difference in pregnancy or live birth rates following IVF treatment. But the group of women taking antidepressants that were not SSRIs, and who had more complex cases of depression and anxiety, showed reduced odds of pregnancy and live birth as well as an increased risk for miscarriage following their IVF treatment.
"Taken together, these results indicate that the depression and anxiety diagnoses may be the underlying factor leading to lower pregnancy and live birth rates in these women," said Dr. Anastasia Nyman Iliadou, associate professor at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She cautioned, however, that the results could also be explained by "unmeasured lifestyle and/or genetic factors associated with depression and anxiety."
What this means is, until there's more conclusive evidence, you should speak to your doctor if you're trying to conceive and have symptons of depression or anxiety, or are currently taking antidepressant meds.