WCH CONNECTNovember 4, 2019

Understanding how reproductive events influence mental health

  • November 4, 2019
  • BY Sarah Warr

Dr. Trine Munk-Olsen

The perinatal period is a time of increased risk for the onset of mood disorders ranging from depression or anxiety during early pregnancy and baby blues, to more serious conditions such as postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. Affecting up to 20 per cent of Canadian women, these mood disorders can profoundly impact the health outcomes of both mothers and their children. 

Last week, Women’s College Hospital (WCH) hosted special guest Dr. Trine Munk-Olsen, international expert in perinatal mood disorders and associate professor at Aarhus University’s National Centre for Register-Based Research in Denmark, for a special research rounds to discuss this topic.

Dr. Munk-Olsen’s presentation – Danish Population-based Epidemiological Studies on Reproduction and Mental Health: How do Reproductive Events Influence Mental Health and Vice Versa – focused on the cyclical relationship between reproduction and mental health. For her research, Dr. Munk-Olsen uses the various Danish public registries that contain a variety of health information including hospital admissions, outpatient visits and prescriptions. For more detailed information on symptoms and genetic factors, Dr. Munk-Olsen has been able to incorporate data from the iPSYCH project in Denmark and Mom Genes Fight PPD (previous PPD ACT) app from the Postpartum Depression: Action Towards Causes and Treatment (PACT) Consortium.

The first half of Dr. Munk-Olsen’s presentation focused on how reproductive events influence mental health, sharing her research on rates of admission to psychiatric hospitals after childbirth and the use of psychotropic medication during pregnancy and postpartum. The second half of the presentation was dedicated to her research on how mental health impacts reproduction. Dr. Munk-Olsen found that women with mental health disorders are less likely to have children compared to the general population, with variation across the different disorders.

Dr. Munk-Olsen ended the research rounds with an audience Q & A to discuss some of her research findings and opportunities for new studies and collaborations. 

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