Impacts on maternal depression and related disorders

Research Area
Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Advice regarding COVID-19 and pregnancy has been constantly evolving and it’s well documented that uncertainty leads to heightened anxiety for expectant parents.

Furthermore, changes in models-of-care, reduced patient physical contact and social isolation are all likely to augment the emotional stress placed on pregnant women.

There is little data on perinatal mental health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic, other coronavirus outbreaks or previous pandemics. Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) researchers found only one published study investigating the impact of COVID-19 on perinatal mental health and its findings suggested an increased depressive risk, especially in the self-harm inclination.

Perinatal depression and anxiety can have devastating long-term effects on both the mother and newborn, and early detection and intervention is vital.

Although virtual health models have shown promising results for obstetric mental health care outside of a pandemic, this study will assess the psychological outcomes of an adapted model of care to ensure appropriate resource allocation for our vulnerable pregnant patient population.

Dr Christoph Lehner
Consultant Obstetrician
Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital

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