Pandemic increases risk of postpartum stress, according to Harvard study

Coronavirus

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – In a worldwide survey conducted by Harvard University School of Public Health, pregnant and postpartum women reported high levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and post-traumatic stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of the 6,894 participants, substantial proportions of women scored at or above the cutoffs in widely-used psychological screening tools for elevated levels of anxiety/depression (31%), loneliness (53%), and post-traumatic stress in relation to COVID-19 (43%), despite the fact that only 117 women (2%) had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 510 (7%) had been in contact with someone with COVID-19. The levels of psychiatric distress were significantly higher than previously published data on such distress in the general population during the pandemic and among pregnant and postpartum women before the pandemic,” the survey reports.

Sarah Harber, a licensed clinical therapist from Parkview Health, says many pregnant and postpartum women are feeling isolated.

“A lot of traditional celebrations that we’ve missed out on this year during the pandemic [such as] gathering people together for a gender reveal, getting together for the baby showers, getting together to introduce the baby to all of your family and friends,” Harber said. “Now there’s a lot where we’ve had to stay home, stay indoors. We don’t necessarily get to leave our houses that much. So, it’s led to a lot of isolation.”

Harber reminds pregnant and postpartum women that it is ok to ask for help.

For more information on Parkview Health’s Behavior Health Services, visit the Parkview Health website.

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