Author(s): Steinberg JR, Rubin LR
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Abstract The knowledge of important biopsychosocial factors linking women's reproductive health and mental health is increasing. This review focuses on psychological aspects of contraception, unintended pregnancy, and abortion because these are common reproductive health experiences in U.S. women's lives. This review addresses the mental-health antecedents and consequences of these experiences, mostly focusing on depression and depressive symptoms before and after unintended pregnancy and contraception. As mental-health antecedents, depressive symptoms predict contraceptive behaviors that lead to unintended pregnancy, and mental-health disorders have been associated with having subsequent abortions. In examining the mental-health consequences, most sound research does not find abortion or contraceptive use to cause mental-health problems. Consequently, evidence does not support policies based on the notion that abortion harms women's mental health. Nevertheless, the abortion-care setting may be a place to integrate mental-health services. In contrast, women who have births resulting from unintended pregnancies may be at higher risk of postpartum depression. Social policies (e.g., paid maternity leave, subsidized child care) may protect women from mental-health problems and stress of unplanned children interrupting employment, education, and pre-existing family care responsibilities.
This article was published in Policy Insights Behav Brain Sci
and referenced in Journal of Depression and Anxiety