Post-traumatic stress and affective symptoms were more evident among pregnant women during COVID-19 pandemic

According to a study by experts at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, pregnant or postpartum women were more likely to report excessively high levels of affective problems and post-traumatic stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The findings were showcased in PLOS One.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a global event that led to global cases of infection with a dangerous coronavirus strain. Similar to people within the general population, pregnant women were vulnerable to its effects, affecting mental health profoundly.

In the study, involving close to 7,000 participants, screening tools were used to measure levels of anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the study, loneliness and post-traumatic stress were both the most common adversities the participants experienced, followed by depression and anxiety.

“Certain factors were linked with worse mental health among the women surveyed. Seeking information about the pandemic five or more times a day from any source (e.g., social media, news, or word-of-mouth) was associated with more than twice the odds of elevated post-traumatic stress in relation to COVID-19 and anxiety/depression. Worries about children and childcare and economic worries were also important factors in women’s mental health,” a news release of the study states.

“In addition to screening and monitoring mental health symptoms, addressing potentially modifiable factors such as excessive information seeking and women’s worries about access to medical care and their children’s well-being, and developing strategies to target loneliness, such as online support groups, should be part of intervention efforts for perinatal women,” concluded the study’s first author.

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