Pandemic Is Leading to More Depression for Pregnant Women

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay reporter

FRIDAY April 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Depression and other mental health problems have become much more common among pregnant women and new mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an international study.

The researchers noted that mental health issues can not only affect a woman’s health, but also affect mother-to-child bonds and the health of children over time.

“We expected to see an increase in the proportion of pregnant and postpartum women reporting mental health distress, as they are likely to be worried or have questions about the health and development of their babies, especially more for their own health or that of their families, ”said lead author Karestan Koenen. She is professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

“However, the number of women with significantly elevated symptoms was much larger than previously reported during the pandemic,” Koenen said in a Harvard press release.

Her team conducted an anonymous online survey of nearly 6,900 women in 64 countries from May 26 to June 13, 2020.

Significant percentages of women who scored at or above the thresholds in widely used psychological screening tools for high levels of anxiety / depression (31%); loneliness (53%) and post-traumatic stress related to COVID-19 (43%). Only 2% had been diagnosed with COVID and 7% had been in contact with someone infected with the virus.

Koenen and her colleagues said these levels of mental health problems were much higher than those previously found in the general population during the pandemic or among pregnant women and new mothers before the pandemic.

Certain factors seem to make matters worse, the researchers reported.

Searching for pandemic information five or more times a day from any source (social media, news, or word of mouth) more than doubled the risk of high post-traumatic stress from COVID as well. as anxiety and depression.

Concerns about children and child care, as well as economic concerns were also significant, according to the study.

The results show the need to find ways to reduce the impact of pandemic stress on pregnant women and new mothers, according to lead author Archana Basu, a researcher at the Chan School.


“In addition to the screening and monitoring of mental health symptoms, potentially modifiable factors such as over-seeking information and women’s concerns about access to medical care and the well-being of women need to be addressed. their children, and develop strategies to target loneliness, such as online support groups, part of intervention efforts for perinatal women, ”Basu said in the statement.

The results were published online April 21 in the journal PLOS ONE.

More information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on pregnancy and COVID-19.

SOURCE: Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, press release, April 21, 2021

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