Can J Clin Pharmacol Vol 16 (1) Winter 2009:e6-e14
The burden of mental illness in general, and depression in particular, has long been
underestimated. One in 6 persons in the United States will, at some point, suffer from major depression. Depression is second only to heart disease as a leading cause of medical disability in
the U.S. Women are vulnerable to mood instability at times of life-cycle related hormonal
challenge (e.g., including the premenstruum, pregnancy, post-miscarriage, postpartum and
perimenopause). Neurobiological, genetic, and psychosocial substrates underlie the increased
vulnerability for depression in women. The significant negative impact of maternal depression
on maternal and child health and psychological well-being and other possible consequences of
chronic depression will be reviewed.
The enormous burden of female depression on women, their children and their families has been well-documented over the past two decades. What remains is the need for serious, rigorously conducted research into effective and safe treatments for depression in women, particularly at times of reproductive transition.