Pregnancy and depression


During pregnancy, 20% of women have depressive symptoms and it is estimated that as much as 16% of women suffer postpartum depression. Prenatal depression increases risk of preeclampsia, birth difficulties and postpartum depression (which, in turn, can have negative effects on the care given to the baby and the mother herself; and is linked to the development of depression in the adolescence of the child).

Nutrient requirements are higher during pregnancy: pregnant women need three times more vitamin B-12, require 70% more folate than non-pregnant and non-lactating women and their omega-3 fatty acids requirements are high (DHA is essential to the brain development of the fetus and maternal concentrations of DHA do not return to their original level until over 6 months after delivery). Women who do not supplement their diets with omega-3 fatty acids are likely to have DHA deficiency and numerous studies have found that low omega-3 levels are related to a higher incidence of maternal depression. Supplementation may decrease the incidence or severity of depression occurring in the period around the time of birth (perinatal depression).


Rechenberg K, Humphries D. Nutritional interventions in depression and Perinatal depression. Yale J Biol Med 2013;86(2):127-137.


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