HealthDay News — The likelihood of using antidepressants may be increased for women who have abortions, but the increased use is not attributable to having had an abortion but to differences in risk factors for depression, according to a study published online May 30 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Julia R. Steinberg, PhD, from the University of Maryland in College Park, and colleagues used data for 396,397 women (30,834 with a first-trimester first abortion and 85,592 with a first childbirth) to examine the correlation with women’s initiation of a first-time prescription for an antidepressant. 

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The researchers found that relative to women who had not had an abortion, women who had a first abortion had an elevated risk of first-time antidepressant use in basic and fully-adjusted models. However, comparing women who had an abortion with women who did not have an abortion, the fully-adjusted incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were not statistically significantly different in the year before the abortion and the year after the abortion (IRRs, 1.46 and 1.54, respectively; P=.10); the IRRs decreased with increasing time since the abortion (1 to 5 years: IRR, 1.24; more than 5 years: IRR, 1.12). In the fully-adjusted model, the strongest risk factors associated with antidepressant use were having a previous psychiatric contact, have previously obtained an antianxiety medication, and having previously obtained antipsychotic medication (IRRs, 3.70, 3.03, and 1.88, respectively), across all women in the sample.

“Increased use of antidepressants is not attributable to having had an abortion but to differences in risk factors for depression,” the authors write.

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