UMD Study Examines Association of Abortion and Antidepressants

UMD Study Examines Association of Abortion and Antidepressants

Having an abortion does not increase a woman’s risk for depression, according to a new University of Maryland study published in JAMA Psychiatry. To better understand the relationship between having an abortion and women’s mental health, Julia R. Steinberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of family science, University of Maryland School of Public Health, and colleagues analyzed data for nearly 400,000 Danish women born between 1980-1994. The information included abortions, childbirths and antidepressant prescriptions as recorded by the Danish National Registries. It is the first study to explore the risk of antidepressant use around an abortion as a proxy for depression. 

Compared to women who did not have an abortion, those who did have an abortion had a higher risk of antidepressant use. But Steinberg stresses this higher risk was the same for both the year before and the year after the abortion, indicating that the higher risk is not due to the abortion but to other factors such as preexisting mental health problems and other adverse experiences.

The study concludes that the risk of antidepressant use did not change from the year before to the year after an abortion, and that the risk of antidepressant use decreased as more time after the abortion elapsed. 

“The purported mental health effects of abortion have been used to justify state policies limiting access to abortion in the United States,” said Steinberg. “However, our findings show that abortion is not causing depression. Policies based on the notion that abortion harms women’s mental health are misinformed."

Steinberg’s findings from the study Examining the Association of Antidepressant Prescriptions With First Abortion and First Childbirth provide important new evidence that can inform policy. Her research also supports the recent National Academies of Science report “The Safety and Quality of Abortion Care in the United States” which concludes that “...having an abortion does not increase women’s risk of depression, anxiety or PTSD.” 

May 31, 2018


Prev   Next

Current Headlines

Important Information from UMD's Division of Research on the Impact of COVID-19 on Research Activity

Public health planners: Free resources for emergency health clinics

Clark School Engineers Create Solutions for a Crisis

COVID-19 Decision Making Gets a Big Data Boost

MEI2 leads U.S. side of $18.4M U.S.-Israel Energy Center focused on Energy Storage

Faculty Scholars and Researchers Honored at Maryland Research Excellence Celebration

University of Maryland Among Top 100 Proposals for MacArthur $100 Million Grant

Darryll Pines Named University of Maryland's 34th President

News Resources

Return to Newsroom

Search News

Archived News

Events Resources

Events Calendar

Additional Resources

UM Newsdesk

Faculty Experts

Connect

social iconstwitterlinkedinrssYouTube
Division of Research
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-1541
© Copyright 2017 University of Maryland

Did You Know

UMD is the only major public research university inside the Washington, DC beltway.