Assessment of antenatal anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder in pregnant women in the COVID-19 era

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Ir J Psychol Med. 2021 Aug 26:1-7. doi: 10.1017/ipm.2021.57. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: To assess the mental health of pregnant women, with reference to anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Ireland during the third wave of the pandemic between February and March 2021. Psychiatric, social and obstetric information was collected from pregnant women in a Dublin maternity hospital, alongside self-reported measures of mental health status.

RESULTS: Of 392 women responding, 23.7% had anxiety, scoring 9 for GAD-7 (7-item generalised anxiety disorder), 20.4% had depression, scoring 9 for PHQ-9 (9-item depression screening tool: Patient health questionnaire) and 10.3% had obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), scoring 13 for Yale-Brown obsessive-compulsive scale symptom checklist (Y-BOCS). Amongst self-reported OCD symptoms, there was a preponderance for obsessions rather than compulsions. Of 392 women, 36.2% described their mental health as worse during the pandemic, most frequently describing symptoms of anxiety and sleep disturbance. When analysed against test scores, self-reported worsening of mental health was significantly associated with higher scores on the GAD-7, PHQ-9 and Y-BOCS scales. The three scores were positively interrelated. Poor mental health scores were associated with self-reported strain in relationship with the baby’s father, and current or previous history of mental illness.

CONCLUSION: This study found high levels of depression, anxiety and OC symptoms amongst pregnant women during COVID-19. This highlights the vulnerability of this group to mental illness and the importance of enhanced screening and support during pandemics.

PMID:34433505 | DOI:10.1017/ipm.2021.57