Around 3-17% of pregnant women suffer from some form of antenatal depression during pregnancy and up to 40% suffer from heightened anxiety.
A rash of studies have shown that this can have a number of negative effects not just on the mother to be but also on her social, personal and marital relationships as well as later mother and infant interactions and of course the infant. Now there is a growing body of evidence to show that anxiety also increases the fear of the birth which results in increases in elective caesarian section and also predicts a range of obstetric problems and also pre and post natal depression.
A study just published today, looked at the prevalence of increased anxiety during the first trimester (gestation weeks 8-12) and the problems associated with anxiety during this period.
The researchers found that 15.6% of women reported significantly increased levels of anxiety during the first trimester. Additionally they found that women under the age of 25 are at an increased risk of contracting problematic anxiety. Further they discovered that additional risk factors include being pregnant in a country where the the mothers native language isn't primarily spoken, lower levels of educational attainment, unemployment, smoking (obviously) and previous bouts of depression or anxiety. Not only that, women who have these risk factors are more likely to develop either or both pre and post natal depression unless the anxiety is successfully treated.
The researchers conclude that all women in the risk category groups and any pregnant women who develops anxiety should obtain treatment for the anxiety (i.e. learning emotion regulation techniques) as a matter of course.
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