Despite increase stressors during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study did not find a higher incidence of postpartum depression among women who gave birth during the pandemic. There was an increased prevalence of mood disorders among individuals delivering infants during the pandemic, according to the study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Women's Health.
Malika Waschmann, from the School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, and coauthors, compared the incidence of postpartum depression in mothers giving birth during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic to those giving birth during the year preceding the pandemic.
Postpartum depression is a common complication of pregnancy affecting 10-15% of individuals.
The investigators found that pre-childbirth prevalence of anxiety and depression increased substantially during the pandemic. However, the results indicated that 'the incidence proportion of PPD symptomatology remained stable as we entered the COVID-19 pandemic despite an increase in underlying, pre-childbirth mood disorders."
In an accompanying editorial, Michael Silverman, PhD and Holly Loudon, MD, MPH, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, The Mount Sinai Hospital, state the following: "Given that the COVID-19 pandemic represents a uniquely stressful time for most, and the overwhelming belief that the pandemic would significantly increase perinatal mood dysregulation and possibly disrupt infant bonding, these findings appear strikingly counterintuitive. Waschmann et al. hypothesize that despite the increased emotional disruption attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic globally, social restrictions may have improved certain aspects of adjustment associated with the early maternal period. Indeed, an increasing body of work is beginning to reveal that those who stood to benefit most from an improved work-family-childcare balance also reported improved postpartum mood during the height of the pandemic restrictions as well as other aspects of health and wellness."
Waschmann, M., et al. (2022) Evaluating the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Postpartum Depression. Journal of Women's Health. doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2021.0428.