A British study has found that women report higher levels of depression symptoms during pregnancy than after having a baby.
A team headed by Dr Jonathan Evans of the University of Bristol had more than 12,000 pregnant women fill out a series of mood questionnaires, following them from 18 weeks into pregnancy through to 8 months after childbirth.
The risky period was 32 weeks into pregnancy, with 13.5 per cent of women reporting symptoms indicating probable depression at this time, compared to 9.1 per cent eight weeks after birth, and 8.1 per cent after eight months.
"Depression during pregnancy has been relatively neglected," wrote the researchers, who published their results in this week's British Medical Journal.
More attention is needed to the condition, they argue, because it may involve physiological effects on the foetus.
There are some concerns about the use of antidepressant medications during pregnancy, but Evans and colleagues say the benefits may outweigh the risks for women with severe depression, and non-drug treatments exist for mild to moderate depression.