Pregnant women at increased risk of anxiety and depression during COVID-19 restrictions

Pregnant women experienced increased levels of anxiety and depression during the first waves of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These results of a prospective cohort study were published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.

Researchers at Universitari Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Spain recruited 204 pregnant women from March 27 to May 4, 2020. During this time, strict bans were in place. The women were assessed over the phone using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey (MOS-SSS). The participants were stratified into restricted group 1 (n = 91; March 27 to April 14) and restricted group 2 (n = 74; April 15 to May 4).

Participants averaged 32.3 ± 0.8 years old, 65% had a low-risk pregnancy, 9% had a mental disorder, 4% had previous depression, and 27%, 40%, and 33% were in their first , second and third trimester.

An EPDS score ³10 was 37.8% (95% CI, 30.5% -45.7%), a STAI (anxiety) ³40 of 59.6% (95% CI, 49.8% -68, 8%) and STAIt (characteristic of fear) 40 by 58.7% (95% CI, 48.9% -67.9%). Compared to the general population, pregnant women reported more depression (38% versus 18.7%) and anxiety (59% versus 21.6%).

Stratified by the progression of pregnancy, women in the first or second trimester had significantly higher EPDS scores than women in the third (9.0 vs. 6.0; P = 0.031). Women did not differ for STAIs (P = 0.253) or STAIt (P = 0.234) based on the trimester.

Stratified according to the blocking period, women did not differ in terms of EPDS (P = 0.097), STAI (P = 0.518) or STAIt (P = 0.072) values ​​due to earlier or later blocking periods.

Depression symptoms were positively associated with the body mass index (b; 0.15, 95% CI, 0.036-0.332; P = 0.015) and negatively associated with a mental disorder (b; -0.3189, 95% CI, – 5.707 to -0.672; P = 0.013) and MOS-SSS score (b; -0.149, 95% CI, -0.211 to -0.087; P = 0.000).

Anxiety symptoms, as assessed by the STAIs, were negatively associated with a mental disorder (b; -5.997, 95% CI, -11.481 to -0.512; P = 0.032), MOS-SSS score (b; -0.180, 95% CI , -0.348 to -0.013; P = 0.035) and among Latin American women (b; -10.578, 95% CI, -20.647 to -0.510; P = 0.040) and as assessed by STAIt, negatively associated with MOS-SSS score (b ; -0.249, 95% CI, -0.394 to -0.105; P = 0.001) and a mental disorder (b; -7.022, 95% CI, -12.334 to -1.710; P. = 0.010).

This study may have been skewed by the recruitment of women during their hospital visits at a time when many women were afraid of not going to doctor’s visits, suggesting that these results may be an underestimate.

These results showed that pregnant women were at increased risk of developing symptoms of anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 lockdown, underscoring the importance of mental health care for pregnant women.

Disclosure: Several authors have declared their affiliations with the industry. For a full list of details, see the original article.


Brik M., Sandonis MA, Fernández S. et al. Psychological Impact and Social Support in Pregnant Women During Lockdown Due to a SARS-CoV2 Pandemic: A Cohort Study. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. Published online February 2, 2021. doi: 10.1111 / aogs.14073

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor

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