Mental Health Symptoms Common for Perinatal Women During COVID-19

THURSDAY, Dec. 3, 2020 — Mental health symptoms are common among perinatal women during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online Nov. 4 in Psychiatry Research.

Cindy H. Liu, Ph.D., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined COVID-19-related health worries and grief and current mental health symptoms among 1,123 U.S. women (pregnant and postpartum) during the COVID-19 pandemic (May 21 to Aug. 17, 2020).

The researchers found that 36.4, 22.7, and 10.3 percent of respondents reported clinically significant levels of depression, generalized anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), respectively. The likelihood of scoring at clinically significant levels of depression, generalized anxiety, and PTSD was increased 1.6- to 3.7-fold for women with preexisting mental health diagnoses based on their self-reported history. High levels of COVID-19-related health worries were reported by about 18 percent, and they were 2.06- to 4.2-fold more likely to score above the clinical threshold for mental health symptoms. High levels of grief were reported by about 9 percent, and they were 4.8 to 5.5 times more likely to score above the clinical threshold for mental health symptoms.

“Because COVID-19-related health worries and grief experiences are risk factors for probable depression or anxiety, women who show elevated worries and grief should be screened further for these diagnoses,” the authors write. “Taking these steps may help reduce maternal psychiatric distress.”

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