Pregnancy & the Course of Bipolar
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Q:  Pregnancy & the Course of Bipolar

Are there any statistics on the course of Bipolar during pregnancy? Is it more or less likely that a woman will have a manic or depressive episode when pregnant? Are hospitalizations likely to occur even if the woman has never been hospitalized before? Is it more likely that a woman w/ Bipolar will have postpartum depression?
 

Dear Ms. C' -- 
There are now good data, summarized primarily in the work of Lee Cohen and colleagues at Harvard, that mood disorders are no less likely to occur during pregnancy (that is, pregnancy is not "protective", as was once thought). So far it does not seem that pregnancy makes mood episodes more likely -- until delivery. Then, as you asked, it is indeed more likely that a woman with bipolar disorder will have postpartum depression: several studies have found a likelihood of about 50% (a bit higher for women who've already had postpartum depression, and therefore a bit lower for those who have not). 

Dr. Phelps


Published May, 2006
 

 

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