A new study has revealed that pregnancy is not an isolated risk factor for development of mental disorders.
However, post-partum women may have a higher risk of major depressive disorder.
To reach the study's conclusions, Oriana Vesga-Lopez, M.D., of New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, and colleagues analyzed data from interviews of 43,093 individuals who participated in a survey on alcohol, disorders and related conditions.
Of these, 14,549 were women (age 18 to 50) who had been pregnant within the past year.
Participants reported psychiatric disorders, substance use and whether they had sought treatment.
"Past-year pregnant and post-partum women had significantly lower rates of alcohol use disorders and any substance use, except illicit drug use, than non-pregnant women," the researchers said.
Also, women who were pregnant at the time of the study had a lower risk of having any mood disorder, except major depression, than non-pregnant women.
"Age, marital status, health status, stressful life events and history of traumatic experiences were all significantly associated with higher risk of psychiatric disorders in pregnant and post-partum women," the researchers added.
Although pregnancy alone is not associated with an increased risk of the most common mental disorders, "groups of pregnant women with particularly high prevalence of psychiatric disorders were identified," the scientists said.
These groups included women age 18 to 25 living without a partner, widowed, separated, divorced or never married and women who experienced pregnancy complications or stressful life events.
The study is published in the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.