More than half of pregnant women experienced anxiety or depression during first wave
Risk more than double that in the general population of Catalonia
59% and 38% of pregnant women suffered from anxiety and depression respectively during the pandemic, states a study released on Thursday. This equates to nearly twice as much as the rates in the general population at 21.6% and 18.7% respectively.
The report, conducted by the Vall d’Hebron hospital and research institute (VHIR) in Barcelona, was performed between March 27 and May 4, 2020, within the first, and harshest, lockdown in Catalonia.
Risk factors in pregnant women
As well as this, it found that out of the 204 women interviewed, these diseases were most likely to be present in individuals in their first and second trimester.
Dr Maia Brik, obstetrician and researcher for the research group in Maternal and Fetal Medicine at the VHIR, hypothesized that this may be due to the higher chances of losing the fetus at this stage. She also mentioned the lack of social support that women were receiving in this early part of gestation, caused by Covid-19 restrictions.
Brik further went on to add that identifying these risk factors would allow them to “create strategies to improve patients’ health, and do so at an earlier stage.”
Higher BMI was also linked to higher risks of depression within pregnant women, which has also been proved to be a risk factor in general for mental health issues.
Strategies to lessen the risks
Following these findings, the Vall d’Hebron hospital’s perinatal psychiatry service offered a range of strategies to combat this surge in complications.
One of the methods put in place was a better and more frequent monitoring of patients they categorized as high-risk.
Online visits were introduced for women whose conditions were worsened by the fear of coming into hospital and being infected by Covid-19.
Miguel Sandonis, psychiatrist at the Vall d’Hebron recommended further implementation of programmes to offer social support “this will also help diminish risk of stress and complications.”
However, women who had pre-existing conditions were less likely to find themselves suffering more during the first wave.
The researches explained that this was likely due to the fact that one third of these pregnant women were already receiving pharmacological treatment.
Indeed, the experts added that they might have developed some resilience to these mental health problems, thus allowing them some protection.
Other at-risk groups
Doctors and healthcare workers are also at extremely high risk of suffering from bad mental health due to the pandemic.
The results released from a paper published in January 2021, discovered that 45.7% of mental health professionals in Spain were at high risk of mental health issues.
Women in general were also found to be more prone to these types of illnesses during the pandemic, due to a range of factors such as feminization of care work and the increase in gender violence during the health crisis.