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Depression, Anxiety Up for New Moms During COVID-19

Scores for both depression, anxiety significantly lower for women engaging in physical activity

MONDAY, June 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- There was a considerable increase in self-reported maternal depression and anxiety from prepandemic to current times, with physical activity mitigating the likelihood of anxiety and depression, according to a study published online June 19 in Frontiers in Global Women's Health.

Margie Davenport, Ph.D., from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues surveyed women who were pregnant or within the first year after delivery between April 14 and May 8, 2020, to examine the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing/isolation measures on mental health and physical activity. Data were included for 520 pregnant women and 380 in the first year after delivery.

The researchers found that 64 percent of women reported reduced physical activity with the onset of isolation measures, while 15 and 21 percent, respectively, reported increases and no change. An Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Survey score ≥13 was self-identified in 15 and 40.7 percent of participants prepandemic and currently, respectively. Moderate-to-high anxiety was identified in 29 and 72 percent of women prepandemic and currently, respectively. Significantly lower scores for both anxiety and depression were reported for women engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week during the pandemic versus those who did not.

"These data highlight a potential intervention for all pregnant and postpartum women to improve or maintain mental health during this extremely stressful period where access to diagnosis and treatment is more challenging," the authors write.

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