Spike in depression and anxiety among pregnant women in the UK during pandemic

on 01 February 2022

A study has found that depression and anxiety in pregnant women spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.

Researchers at Essex Babylab at the University of Essex found there was a spike in reported depression rates of 30%, compared to pre-pandemic levels, and anxiety rates increasing from 37% to 60% in pregnant women.

150 women took part in the study which was conducted between April 2020 and January 2021.

The study found that prenatal trauma can significantly amplify vulnerability to mental health problems, and that pregnant women with higher depressive symptoms reported feeling less attached to their unborn babies.

It was also revealed that social support provided positive impacts on pregnant women in protecting their mental health.

Support from partners, family and friends, and the NHS acted as a protective factor against negative mental health.

Research Author of the study, Dr Rigato, said: “While this result is in line with previous observations that women’s mood during pregnancy influences the early relationship with her child, it reinforces the need for authorities to support women throughout their pregnancy and the postnatal period in order to protect their health and their infants’ development.”

Women who considered the COVID-19 having a bigger negative impact showed higher levels of anxiety.

Research Author of study, Dr Fillipetti, said: “The high rates of depression and anxiety during the pandemic highlighted by our study suggest that expectant women are facing a mental health crisis that can significantly interfere and impair mother-infant bonding during pregnancy, and can potentially impact on childbirth outcome, as well as later infant and child development.”

In the study’s conclusion it recommends “health services should prioritise interventions strategies aimed at fostering support for pregnant women.”

The study ‘The mental health crisis of expectant women in the UK: effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on prenatal mental health, antenatal attachment and social support’ can be found here.

Quotation source: Science Daily