Study Reveals Link Between Pregnancy-Related Depression and Autoimmune Diseases

In a new study, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, discovered a possible link between pregnancy-related depression and autoimmune conditions including psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease and ulcerative colitis. This particular unique work reveals the depth of the roll the immune system plays in mental health throughout postpartum and pregnancy.

The analysis led by Emma Bränn’s examined health data from 1.3 million expecting mothers in Sweden between 2001 and 2013. Results suggested that of the females surveyed, over 55,000 experienced depression during or even one year after pregnancy. A striking finding was that females with autoimmune histories were 30% more prone to get pregnancy-related depression compared to those without. In comparison, individuals who have pregnancy-related depression had been similarly in danger of developing an autoimmune condition.

The greatest link was between multiple sclerosis and pregnancy-associated depression; with MS individuals twice as likely to have pregnancy-related depression. These data highlight the complicated relationship between the immune system and mental health during and after pregnancy.

The results point out autoimmune disorders as being a risk factor for perinatal depression. Even though immediate causation isn’t established, the research indicates that an immunological mechanism may contribute to depression throughout the vulnerable perinatal time.

Depression during pregnancy is a serious problem

The outcomes of this research have wide implications. Bränn and her staff have pointed out how depression during pregnancy is serious business, not only for the mother’s sake but for the child’s as well.

Even though the research highlights the connection between immune dysfunction as well as mood disorders during pregnancy, additionally it creates brand new possible research paths. It calls for multidisciplinary maternal care, which brings together mental and physical well-being. The Karolinska Institute’s research is a call to consider a holistic approach to healthcare for expectant and new mothers and emphasize the demand for early intervention and detection in maternal mental health.

Because studies continue to unravel the myriad signs and symptoms of autoimmune disorders and their connection to mental well-being, this particular study can serve as a prompt reminder that female health problems need increased support and attention, particularly throughout the most defining stages of motherhood and pregnancy.


Bränn, E., Chen, Y., Song, H. et al. Bidirectional association between autoimmune disease and perinatal depression: a nationwide study with sibling comparison. Mol Psychiatry (2024).