Rates of depressive and anxiety symptoms in the perinatal period during the COVID-19 pandemic: Comparisons between countries and with pre-pandemic data

Vera Mateus, Sara Cruz, Raquel Costa, Ana Mesquita, Andri Christoforou, Claire A. Wilson, Eleni Vousoura, Pelin Dikmen-Yildiz, Rena Bina, Sara Dominguez-Salas, Yolanda Contreras-García, Emma Motrico, Ana Osório

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic was a significant threat to perinatal mental health. This study examined differences in clinically significant depression, anxiety, and co-morbid symptoms among pregnant and postpartum women across several countries and compared prevalence of perinatal depression and anxiety before and during the pandemic in each participating country. Methods: Participants were 3326 pregnant and 3939 postpartum women (up to six months postpartum) living in Brazil, Chile, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. An online survey was completed between June 7th and October 31st 2020, and included the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Screener (GAD-7). The pre-pandemic studies were identified through literature review. Results: Prevalence of clinically significant depression (EPDS≥13), anxiety (GAD-7 ≥ 10), and co-morbid (EPDS≥13 and GAD-7 ≥ 10) symptoms was 26.7 %, 20 % and 15.2 %, in pregnant women, and 32.7 %, 26.6 % and 20.3 %, in postpartum women, respectively. Significant between-country differences were found in all mental health indicators in both perinatal periods. Higher levels of symptoms were observed during (versus before) the pandemic, especially among postpartum women. Limitations: Participants were mostly highly educated and cohabiting with a partner. The online nature of the survey may have limited the participation of women from vulnerable socio-economically backgrounds. Conclusions: Our findings expand previous literature on the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on perinatal mental health, by highlighting that this may be influenced by country of residence. Mental health care policies and interventions should consider the unique needs of perinatal women in different parts of the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-253
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume316
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Depression
  • Mental health
  • Postpartum
  • Pregnancy

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