Though childbirth is often anticipated with optimism and enthusiasm, approximately 10 to 20 percent of pregnant individuals also experience mental health challenges during the weeks immediately before and after birth. Depression, anxiety and trauma-related disorders can all be exacerbated by increased stress related to pregnancy and postpartum experiences. But it’s unknown how the stressors of a significant health pandemic can impact these complications. In a new study published in Psychiatry Review, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital surveyed pregnant women and those who had recently given birth, finding concerning rates of depression, generalized anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, which were found to be exacerbated by COVID-19-related grief and health worries.
“We know the perinatal period is already a time in which women are particularly vulnerable to mental health concerns,” said corresponding author Cindy Liu, PhD, of the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry.