In a study Zivin and her colleagues published in JAMA Psychiatry, they found that, from 2006 to 2017, the prevalence of suicidal ideation and intentional self-harm among childbearing women in the year before or after they gave birth increased substantially.
The topic of maternal suicidality, and maternal mental health in general, does not get the attention it deserves, Zivin said. “Many people have heard of postpartum depression, but how many have heard of perinatal depression?” she said. “Anxiety is far more common than depression, as well, even before COVID, which adds a whole new dynamic to the experience of pregnancy.”
Zivin and colleagues conducted the Maternal Behavioral Health Policy Evaluation study to evaluate suicidality trends from 2006 to 2017 among childbearing individuals aged 15 to 44. They used Optum Clinformatics Data Mart, which included medical claims data from a national, commercially insured population from all 50 states. The researchers compared participants with or without a suicidality diagnosis (defined as a diagnosis of suicidal ideation and/or intentional self-harm in inpatient or outpatient settings) in the year before and after giving birth. The authors also identified whether the patients had clinical comorbidities, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and substance use disorders.