Depression, Anxiety Rates High Among Hospitalized Pregnant Women on Bed Rest

May 6, 2013

New Orleans, LA -- Pregnant women who are hospitalized and on bed rest should be assessed for depression and anxiety, according to new research presented today at the Annual Clinical Meeting of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Sixty-three pregnant women who were hospitalized due to high-risk obstetric complications were recruited for a study at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, MA, between June 2011 and September 2012. Patients completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale (GAD-7), and Short-Form 12 (SF-12) on a weekly basis before delivery and then once after delivery.

The study was undertaken when an ob-gyn resident became concerned that there seemed to be many anxious and depressed patients hospitalized due to high-risk pregnancies. “There weren’t a lot of resources for these women, many of whom were hospitalized for weeks or even months,” said Ruth P. Levesque, MD, who conducted the study with colleagues, including principal investigator, Nancy Byatt, DO. The researchers wanted to develop interventions, but first needed to get a better sense of the problem. There is a dearth of research examining the impact of obstetric hospitalization on depression, anxiety, and quality of life.

“Depression in pregnancy is associated with poor birth outcomes,” Dr. Levesque said. In addition to assessing rates of depression and anxiety in these patients while they were hospitalized, the study looked at possible changes in depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as changes in quality of life during hospitalization.

Twenty-seven percent of the patients scored greater than 10 on the EPDS and GAD-7 tests, indications of possible depression or generalized anxiety disorder. Researchers did not find a significant change in depression or anxiety over the course of hospitalization, but quality of life declined significantly during that time.

According to Dr. Levesque, maternal depression and anxiety can negatively affect birth outcomes and mother-infant bonding and have long-term consequences on children. “Children with depressed mothers are at a higher risk of developing their own anxiety or disruptive disorders,” said Dr. Levesque. “Very few of the women in our study were in treatment for depression or anxiety before or during their hospital stay. Our study suggests that depression and anxiety are relatively common in hospitalized obstetric patients and there’s a great need for that to be addressed. Early intervention that begins in pregnancy is important and may mitigate the risk of postpartum depression.”

*Monday Poster #54: Depression, Anxiety, and Quality of Life in Hospitalized High-Risk Obstetrical Patients

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 57,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.


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