Archives of Women's Mental Health

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Purpose: Women with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) might be particularly vulnerable to psychiatric comorbidities. However, population surveys have yielded disparate findings. We used data from the French Mental Health in the General Population survey to investigate gender-related risks of psychiatric comorbidities associated with AUD. Methods: A cross-sectional survey based on face-to-face interviews, including the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview, was conducted among 38,717 subjects. Logistic regression models were used to assess risks of psychiatric comorbidities associated with AUD. Results: After adjustment for socio-demographics and other psychiatric disorders, both women and men with AUD were at higher risk of comorbid depressive disorder (odds-ratio [OR]=2.6, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.0-3.4 in women, and OR=2.0, 95% CI: 1.7-2.4 in men), bipolar I disorder (2.5; 1.4-4.4 in women vs. 2.6; 1.9-3.4 in men), and psychotic disorder (1.6; 1.01-2.5 in women vs. 1.8; 1.4-2.3 in men). Women with AUD exhibited an increased risk of comorbid panic disorder (OR=1.6, 95% CI: 1.1-2.2) while the increased risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder () was significant in men only (OR=2.6, 95% CI: 1.6-4.2). The increased risk of comorbid SUD was more elevated in women, compared to men" (12.9; 8.1-18.1 vs. 4.8; 4.0-5.8 in men). Conclusion: Most of psychiatric conditions were over-represented in both women and men with AUD, relative to controls. Gender specific findings were that women with AUD had an increased risk of comorbid substance use or panic disorder, while men had a significantly higher risk of comorbid PTSD.
PRISMA diagram of study identification and selection for systematic review and meta-analysis
of findings from the risk of bias assessment. Figures generated from
Results from meta-analysis by symptom measure, with subgroup analysis by measurement tool (n = 30). SMD standardized mean difference, PANSS Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, SAPS Scale for the Assessment of Positive Symptoms, CGI-S/BP The Clinical Global Impression-Severity Scale/ Bipolar, BPRS Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, SANS Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms, CDSS The Calgary Depression Scale, FCQ Frankfurt Complaint Questionnaire, GAF Global Assessment of Functioning Scale, SOFAS Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale
First-episode psychosis (FEP) can be quite variable in clinical presentation, and both sex and gender may account for some of this variability. Prior literature on sex or gender differences in symptoms of psychosis have been inconclusive, and a comprehensive summary of evidence on the early course of illness is lacking. The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature to summarize prior evidence on the sex and gender differences in the symptoms of early psychosis. We conducted an electronic database search (MEDLINE, Scopus, PsycINFO, and CINAHL) from 1990 to present to identify quantitative studies focused on sex or gender differences in the symptoms of early psychosis. We used random effects models to compute pooled standardized mean differences (SMD) and risk ratios (RR), with 95% confidence intervals (CI), for a range of symptoms. Thirty-five studies met the inclusion criteria for the systematic review, and 30 studies were included in the meta-analysis. All studies examined sex differences. Men experienced more severe negative symptoms (SMD = − 0.15, 95%CI = − 0.21, − 0.09), whereas women experienced more severe depressive symptoms (SMD = 0.21, 95%CI = 0.14, 0.27) and had higher functioning (SMD = 0.16, 95%CI = 0.10, 0.23). Women also had a lower prevalence of substance use issues (RR = 0.65, 95%CI = 0.61, 0.69). Symptoms of early psychosis varied between men and women; however, we were limited in our ability to differentiate between biological sex and gender factors. These findings may help to inform early detection and intervention efforts to better account for sex and gender differences in early psychosis presentation.
Scatterplot graph of the relationship between harm avoidance and the cortisol awakening response Abbreviations: CAR, cortisol awakening response This figure represents the interaction between sex and harm avoidance in relation to the CAR. In men, higher scores on harm avoidance were associated with an increased CAR. In contrast, an opposite pattern was found for women, as higher harm avoidance scores were associated with a blunted CAR
Scatterplot graph of the relationship between harm avoidance and the diurnal cortisol slope This figure represents the interaction between sex and harm avoidance in relation to the diurnal cortisol slope calculated between awakening and 11:00 p.m.). In men, higher scores on harm avoidance were associated with a more flattened diurnal cortisol slope. In contrast, an opposite pattern was found for women, as higher harm avoidance was associated with a more negative diurnal cortisol slope
The aim of our study was to examine whether there are sex-based differences in the relationship between personality traits and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis measures. A total of 106 healthy volunteers (56.6% women; age: 48.0 ± 15.8 years) were studied. The revised temperament and character inventory (TCI-R) and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) were administered. HPA axis function was assessed using three dynamic measures: the cortisol awakening response (CAR), the diurnal cortisol slope, and the cortisol suppression ratio with 0.25 mg of dexamethasone (DSTR). Female sex was associated with an increased CAR and a more flattened diurnal cortisol slope, although a negative significant interaction between harm avoidance and female sex was found. Regarding the DSTR, perseverance was associated with increased cortisol suppression after dexamethasone; sex did not affect this association. Our study suggests that the relationship between specific personality traits (harm avoidance) and HPA axis measures (CAR, diurnal slope) differs according to sex.
Purpose Given the health consequences, perinatal substance use is a significant public health concern, especially as substance use rates increase among women; ongoing data regarding the rates of substance use across trimesters of pregnancy is needed. Methods The present study utilized cross-sectional population-based data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) between 2009 and 2019. We aimed to explore both licit and illicit substance use assessed within each trimester among women endorsing past-year substance use. The NSDUH sample included 8,530 pregnant women. Results Perinatal substance use was less prevalent among women in later trimesters; however, past-month substance use was observed for all substances across trimesters. The prevalence of past-month licit substance use among pregnant women ranged from 5.77 to 22.50% and past-month illicit substance use ranged from 4.67 to 14.81%. In the second trimester, lower odds of past-month substance use were observed across tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana (odds ratios [ORs] ranging from 0.29 to 0.47), when compared to the first trimester. A similar lower rate of past-month substance use was observed in the third trimester compared to the first trimester, across tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use, as well as cocaine, prescription pain medication, and tranquilizer use (ORs ranging from 0.02 to 0.42). The likelihood of polysubstance use was lower among women in the second and third trimesters compared to the first trimester (ORs ranging from 0.09 to 0.46). Conclusion Findings indicate that a minority of women continue to use substances across all trimesters. This is especially true among women using licit substances and marijuana. These results highlight the need for improved interventions and improved access to treatment for these women.
Depression class trajectories among mothers of full-term and preterm infants
To examine postpartum depressive symptom trajectories from birth to age 5 and their risk factors in a national sample of mothers of preterm and full-term infants. The racially and ethnically diverse sample comprised 11,320 maternal participants (Mage = 29; SD = 5.9) in the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program in the USA with data on newborn gestational age at birth (≥ 22 weeks) and maternal depression symptoms during the first 5 years following childbirth. Growth mixture models determined the number and trajectory of postpartum depression classes among women in the preterm and full-term groups, and we examined predictors of class membership. Five trajectories described depressive symptoms for both groups; however, notable differences were observed. One in 5 mothers of preterm infants developed clinically relevant depressive symptoms over time compared with 1 in 10 mothers of full-term infants. Among women who delivered preterm compared with those who delivered full-term, symptoms were more likely to increase over time and become severe when offspring were older. Distinct subgroups describe mothers’ depressive symptom trajectories through 5 years following childbirth. Mild to moderate depressive symptoms may onset or persist for many women beyond the initial postpartum period regardless of newborn gestational age at birth. For women with preterm infants, initially mild symptoms may increase to high levels of severity during the preschool and toddler years.
Although continuous support during childbirth is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and has well-established benefits, the practice is still not routinely implemented in all maternity settings. We studied the possible effect of an additional lay companion (other than the partner) on childbirth experience and postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Two hundred and forty-six women, who gave birth in maternity wards of a large tertiary health center in Israel, responded to questionnaires in person at 1–4 days (Demographic questions and the childbirth experience questionnaire) and on-line at 8–10 weeks postpartum (City Birth Trauma Scale). Obstetric data were taken from the medical files. Women who were accompanied by their partners and an additional companion were lower in birth-related PTSD symptoms (M = 1.17, SD = 2.61) than women accompanied by only their partner (M = 1.53, SD = 2.79) (F(2, 240) = 4.0, p < 0.05). Women who had a single companion (M = 1.44, SD = 2.61) showed more birth-related PTSD symptoms than women who had two or more companions (M = 1.17, SD = 2.52) (F(1, 241) = 6.4, p < 0.05). In addition, women who had a single companion were higher in general PTSD symptoms (M = 3.91, SD = 4.73) than women who had two or more companions (M = 2.31, SD = 4.29) (F(1, 241) = 4.2, p < 0.05). No differences were found in childbirth experiences of women with single or multiple companions. Allowing more than one lay companion (other than the partner) may be a simple cost-effective way of providing beneficial support in all birth settings, promoting respectful maternity care and reducing childbirth-related PTSD levels and by that future psychopathology sequela.
This study aimed to explore the risk factors for alcohol use during pregnancy in Mongolia, wherein high-risk alcohol use is prevalent. We analyzed nationwide data from the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Survey of Mongolia conducted in 2017. We conducted an analysis restricted to 2714 women who had given birth within 5 years of the survey and who had responded to questions about their health-related behaviors during pregnancy. We assessed the association between alcohol use during pregnancy and pregnancy-related factors, including maternal age, educational attainment, history of abortion, smoking during pregnancy, unintended pregnancy, prior experience of sexual and physical violence, physical violence during pregnancy, and current binge drinking while also considering their residential region. Alcohol use during pregnancy was reported in 5.4% of the participating women. Unintended pregnancy for women (OR = 1.95, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.60, 2.38), abortion history (1.89, 95% CI: 1.60, 2.24), smoking during pregnancy (8.30, 95% CI: 6.60, 10.43), physical violence during pregnancy (2.22, 95% CI: 1.75, 2.81), and being a binge drinker (6.05, 95% CI: 3.63, 10.10) were associated with higher odds of alcohol use during pregnancy. Associations with maternal age, marital status, higher education, or multiparity were not evident. Our finding provides knowledge of risk factors for alcohol drinking among pregnant women and evidence for another harm of gender-based violence. This would contribute to the development of effective strategies for preventing antenatal exposure to alcohol in Mongolia.
Due to shortage of childcare facilities while high social expectations for mothering, becoming a mother is a big life challenge for most women in urban China. The understandings on Chinese postpartum women’s affective well-being and its relation with spousal support and maternal role adaptation remain limited. This study aims to investigate the affective well-being (including both positive and negative affect) of Chinese urban postpartum women and how it is associated with spousal support and maternal role adaptation. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Shanghai, China, between June and July 2019. A total of 498 urban mothers whose babies were 0 to 1 year old participated in this survey. They completed the Postpartum Social Support Questionnaire (PSSQ), the Maternal Role Adaptation Scale, and the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS), and reported socio-demographic information. Results showed that positive and negative affect of postpartum women were not significantly associated with each other. Positive affect had a positive correlation with spousal support and maternal role adaptation. Negative affect was negatively associated with maternal role adaptation, while not significantly associated with spousal support. Maternal role adaptation partially mediated the relationship between spousal support and positive affect of the participants, controlling for age, household income, education, birth order, and inter-generational support. The findings indicate that intervention programs towards mental health of postpartum women should focus more on positive affect cultivation; moreover, clinical services should help postpartum women to adapt to maternal role by encouraging new fathers’ or partners’ involvement in daily childcare-giving.
Intercorrelations among psychopathology and postpartum functioning
Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms are more likely to develop or be exacerbated during pregnancy and the postpartum period, which can cause significant distress and impairment. However, the disorders grouped with OCD in the DSM-5, obsessive–compulsive and related disorders (OCRD; e.g., hoarding disorder (HD), body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), trichotillomania (TTM), excoriation disorder (ED)), have rarely been examined in the perinatal period. This study aimed to explore (1) the prevalence of all clinically significant OCRD symptoms in pregnancy and the postpartum period and (2) the correlations between OCRD psychopathology and postpartum functioning. Participants were recruited during their second trimester of pregnancy from a Midwestern medical center. Participants completed an online questionnaire and a semi-structured clinical interview during pregnancy (28–32 weeks’ gestation, N = 276) and the postpartum period (6–8 weeks, N = 221). BDD and OCD symptoms were the most prevalent. In pregnancy, 14.9% (N = 41) of participants endorsed clinically significant BDD symptoms and 6.2% (N = 17) endorsed clinically significant OCD symptoms. In the postpartum period, 11.8% (N = 26) endorsed clinically significant BDD symptoms and 14% (N = 31) endorsed clinically significant OCD symptoms. Poorer postpartum functioning was associated with elevated OCRD symptoms in pregnancy and postpartum. OCRD symptoms occur during pregnancy and the postpartum period at rates similar or higher than other life periods. Elevated OCRD symptoms are associated with poorer postpartum functioning across domains. Future research should explore how all OCRD symptoms may affect functioning in the perinatal period, not only OCD symptoms.
The parallel process model. Observed repeated measures comprising the measurement model are not shown
This study aims to understand the direct and indirect effects of poverty trajectories on maternal depression trajectories mediated by material hardship trajectories. A latent growth mediation model was tested using a predominantly low-income and mostly unmarried sample of mothers from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a national birth cohort of racially diverse mothers (N = 3999). Measures included family poverty, material hardship, and maternal depression from 5 waves of data which tracked mothers starting 1 year after childbirth until the child reached 15 years of age. The results revealed that (1) family poverty was associated with material hardship and maternal depression, and material hardship was related to maternal depression at the trajectory level and the rate of change, with the exception of the relationships between the rate of change in family poverty and the rate of change in maternal depression; (2) material hardship mediated the relationship between family poverty and maternal depression at the initial trajectory levels, and the rate of change in material hardship fully mediated the relationship between the rate of change in poverty and the rate of change in maternal depression. This study provides further evidence that alleviating material hardship might be a promising avenue to reducing maternal depression.
Study design and hypothesis. Whereas the hPPD women exhibit more negatively biased cognitive processing during the LUT, as compared to the FOL phase, nhPPD women will not exhibit this bias. Negative cognitive processing will be indexed by greater attentional bias to negative stimuli, greater attention captured by negative stimuli, negatively biased recollection of traits, and negatively biased endorsement of personality traits. Furthermore, in the LUT phase rumination will be increased differentially in women with hPPD. Assessments performed: SRET—self-referential encoding task; emotional Stroop task; dot-probe task; the Ruminative Response Styles questionnaire. hPPD —women with a history of postpartum depression; nhPPD—women with no history of postpartum depression
Effects of menstrual phase on the self-referential encoding task (SRET)—self-perception. Analysis was calculated using repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) in order to reveal significant interactions effect in the SRET task. Fisher’s exact test was used for a post hoc analysis. Significant post hoc effects are marked by *. Three-way interaction effect was found to be significant (p=.013,η²=.085). Women with hPPD described themselves significantly more negatively in the LUT phase then in the FOL phase (p=0.003), while the nhPPD group demonstrated an opposite pattern, albeit with marginal significance. SRET—self-referential encoding task; hPPD—women with a history of postpartum depression; nhPPD—women with no history of postpartum depression. Error bars represent standard deviation
p=.002,η²=.13). Women with hPPD demonstrated better recollection of negative words they have endorsed as reflecting themselves in the LUT phase then in the FOL phase (p=.05), and a marginally lower recollection of positive words in the LUT phase compared with the FOL phase. The nhPPD group demonstrated an opposite pattern, with a significant smaller percentage of negative words remembered in the LUT vs. FOL phase (p=0.009). SRET—self-referential encoding task; hPPD—women with a history of postpartum depression; nhPPD—women with no history of postpartum depression. Error bars represent standard deviation.
Emotional Stroop task. A repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed significant interaction effect (p= .042). Women in the hPPD group demonstrated an increased interference from the FOL to the LUT phases, while nhPPD group demonstrated a reverse pattern; however, these did not reach significant levels. hPPD—women with a history of postpartum depression; nhPPD—women with no history of postpartum depression. Error bars represent standard deviation.
Gonadal steroids (GSs) have been repeatedly shown to play a central role in the onset of postpartum depression (PPD). The underlying mechanisms, however, are only partially understood. We investigated the relationship between cognitive processing of emotional information and naturally occurring hormonal fluctuations in women with and without previous PPD. Euthymic, parous women, with a history (hPPD, n=32) and without a history (nhPPD, n=43) of PPD, were assessed during late-follicular and late-luteal phases. Participants were administered cognitive tasks assessing attention (dot-probe; emotional Stroop), evaluation (self-referential encoding) and incidental recall, and self-report measures. Menstrual-phase-specific differences were found between late-follicular vs. late-luteal phases among hPPD only, with depression-associated patterns observed in the late-luteal phase on the self-referential encoding and incidental recall task and emotional Stroop task, but not on the dot-probe task. No main effect for menstrual phase was found on any of the tasks or questionnaires, apart from the brooding component of rumination. Women with hPPD demonstrate a differential bias in cognitive processing of emotional information that is menstrual phase dependent, and did not correspond to similar difference in mood symptoms. These biases may reflect sensitivity to gonadal steroid fluctuations that are associated with PPD.
Lithium is the mood stabilizer of choice for the prevention of bipolar relapse over the perinatal period. A critical issue is its safety of the mother and the developing fetus. This study aims to compare obstetric outcomes in women with bipolar disorders (BD) regarding treatment with lithium during pregnancy. We enrolled a cohort of pregnant women with BD that received care at the Perinatal Mental Health Unit of a tertiary hospital between January 2005 and March 2017. The exposed group received lithium during pregnancy, whereas the unexposed group did not. The main outcomes were obstetric complications during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, neonatal complications, and congenital malformations. Demographic and clinical data were described using measures of frequency, central tendency, and dispersion. Between-group differences were calculated with chi-square, Fisher’s test, t-tests, or Mann–Whitney U test. Our cohort included 100 pregnant women with BD: 53 (53%) used lithium during pregnancy, and 47 (47%) did not. There were no significant differences in obstetric complications, neonatal complications, or congenital anomalies. Nonetheless, newborns of lithium-treated women had lower Apgar scores at 1 min (mean 8.2 ± 1.6 vs. 8.9 ± 0.6, p = 0.026) and 5 min (9.6 ± 0.8 vs. 9.9 ± 0.5, p = 0.015). Our findings do not identify worse obstetric outcomes in women with BD that take lithium during pregnancy, except for an impact on newborn Apgar scores. Lithium might be an adequate treatment for pregnant women with BD, especially for those with a high recurrence risk, and always after an individualized risk–benefit assessment.
The normal physical changes associated with pregnancy may increase the risk of body dissatisfaction, which is associated with negative mental health outcomes including depression and disordered eating. The purpose of this study was to explore body image and eating concerns among a sample of participants in pregnancy and postpartum and to assess interest and suggestions for a relevant intervention. This was a cross-sectional survey study requiring 10–15 min to complete. Individuals were eligible to participate in the study if they were pregnant or within 1 year postpartum, between the ages of 18 and 45, able to read and write in English, and provided online informed consent. The survey included measures and open-text questions to explore body image, eating behaviors, and related concerns in the perinatal period and to inform the development of an intervention. There were 161 participants, and over 50% were dissatisfied with their body image; 52% were among pregnant participants and 56.2% of postpartum participants. Approximately 80% reported that they would have appreciated the opportunity to participate in a program focused on body acceptance or expectations of body changes in pregnancy and postpartum. We identified intervention preferences as well as commonly reported themes regarding experiences of body image and eating concerns in pregnancy and postpartum. Body dissatisfaction and eating concerns are prevalent issues in pregnancy and postpartum, and our findings underscore an opportunity to tailor an intervention relevant to body image and disordered eating for the perinatal population.
Postpartum PRAMS respondents
Postpartum depression (PPD) is common and disproportionately affects people of color. Experiences of emotional upset due to racism (EUR) may be an important predictor of PPD outcomes. Therefore, we aimed to determine if EUR during the 12 months before delivery was associated with PPD symptomology, asking for help for depression, and depression diagnosis among postpartum people of color (PPOC). We conducted a cross-sectional secondary data analysis among PPOC from 11 states and New York City using PRAMS data, 1/1/2015–12/31/2017. We assessed symptomology using an unvalidated PHQ-2. Logistic regression was performed without and with stratification by ethnicity (non-Hispanic PPOC vs Hispanic PPOC) to estimate whether EUR during 12 months before delivery was associated with (1) PPD symptoms, (2) asking for help for depression, and (3) depression diagnosis. Models adjusted for age, educational attainment, timely prenatal care, payment method, stress during pregnancy, and pre-pregnancy depression. Seventy-four thousand nine hundred nine (11.8%) PPOC reported EUR in the 12 months before delivery. After adjustment, EUR was associated with a 10.3 percentage point (%pt; 95% CI: 6.8, 13.8), 13.6%pt (95% CI: 8.8, 18.5), and 4.1%pt (95% CI: 1.4, 8.0) higher probability of positive PPD screening among all PPOC, non-Hispanic PPOC, and Hispanic PPOC, respectively. EUR was not associated with asking for help for depression but was associated with a higher prevalence of depression diagnosis among all PPOC (4.6%pt; 95% CI: 1.0, 8.4) and non-Hispanic PPOC (6.0%pt; 95% CI: 0.8, 11.2). Experiences of EUR are associated with an increased prevalence of PPD symptoms. Additional prospective research spanning the pre-pregnancy through postpartum periods is needed to examine the dynamic relationship between racism, symptomology, help-seeking, and diagnosis of depression.
Rapid screening tools are useful for identifying at-risk patients and referring them for further assessment and treatment, but none exist that consider the unique medical needs of pregnant women with eating disorders (EDs). There is a need for a rapid, sensitive, and specific screening tool that can be used to identify a potential ED in pregnancy. We started with a set of 25 questions, developed from our qualitative work along with other ED screening tools, and tested on a development (n = 190) and validation sample (n = 167). Statistical analysis included factor analysis and logistic regressions with ROC curves. Development and validation samples were combined for trimester analysis (n = 357). Refining the tool to 12 items demonstrated strong internal reliability (development alpha = 0.95, validation alpha = 0.91). With correlated errors, questions demonstrated acceptable CFA fit (development: GFI: 0.91, RMSEA: 0.10, NNFI: 0.95; validation: GFI: 0.85, RMSEA: 0.14, NNFI: 0.86). Similar fits were seen by trimester: first trimester n = 127, GFI: 0.89, RMSEA: 0.12, NNFI: 0.94; second trimester n = 150, GFI: 0.83, RMSEA: 0.14, NNFI: 0.88; third trimester n = 80, GFI: 0.99, NNFI: 0.99. Validation against current ED diagnosis demonstrated acceptable sensitivity and specificity using a cutoff of 39 (development sensitivity = 80.7%, specificity = 79.7%, OR = 16.42, 95% CI: 7.51, 35.88; validation sensitivity = 69.2%, specificity = 86.5%, OR: 17.43, 95% CI: 6.46, 47.01). Findings suggest the PEBS tool can reliably and sensitively detect EDs across pregnancy trimesters with 12 questions. A further implication of this work is to reduce health and mental health treatment disparities through this standard and rapid screening measure to ensure early identification and treatment.
PRISMA diagram of search strategy
Mental health disorders can be exacerbated during periods of hormonal fluctuation (e.g. pregnancy, menopause), and the risk factors for sensitivity to these fluctuations are similar to those of mental disorders (e.g. trauma). However, the extent to which hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle impact symptoms of preexisting mental disorders remains unclear. Prospective methodology is considered the gold standard for measuring symptoms across the menstrual cycle. Thus, the aim of the review was to address this knowledge gap by summarising all available studies prospectively measuring symptoms of mental disorders across the menstrual cycle. A systematic review with narrative synthesis was conducted; meta-analysis was precluded due to methodological heterogeneity of included studies. Electronic databases MEDLINE, Embase, PyschINFO and CINAHL were systematically searched from inception. Risk of bias for individual studies was assessed using a modified version of the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale. The search identified 629 studies from which 35 met inclusion criteria. There was clear evidence of symptom exacerbation during the perimenstrual phase for psychotic disorders, panic disorder, eating disorders, depression and borderline personality disorder. Less consistent evidence was found for anxiety, and a different pattern of symptom exacerbation was observed in bipolar disorder. Sample size and methodology varied considerably amongst studies. Overall, there was mixed evidence for perimenstrual exacerbation across mental disorders, which could be partly explained by methodological limitations of the studies. However, hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle may exacerbate psychiatric symptoms in a subgroup of individuals who are hormone sensitive.
Directed acyclic graph of the association between PTB and PPD
Flow of participants’ inclusion in the study’s final sample
Preterm birth (PTB) and postpartum depression (PPD) are important public health issues, and although literature mainly supports the association between them, some reviews have highlighted methodological limitations in the studies in this field, restricting the interpretation of such finding. This study aimed at assessing the association between PTB and PPD, by comparing groups of preterm and full-term mothers in two Brazilian cities with contrasting sociodemographic indicators. This prospective convenience cohort study assessed 1421 women during pregnancy, at childbirth, and in the postpartum period. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was administrated to assess PPD within 6 months after delivery and women were considered probably depressed if scores were EDPS ≥ 12. PTB was defined as the delivery before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. A multivariate Poisson regression was used to estimate relative risk for PPD in mothers of preterm infants, and the final analysis models were adjusted for psychosocial variables, selected according to the directed acyclic graph (DAG) approach. Frequencies of PPD were not significantly different in mothers of preterm and full-term infants, in neither city. In the final adjusted model, PTB was not associated with PPD. The association between PTB and PPD was not confirmed in two large samples from two Brazilian cities with contrasting socioeconomic profile. However, maternal health during pregnancy plays an important role in predicting PPD. Prenatal care should promote maternal mental health as an effort towards decreasing unfavored outcomes for mothers, infants, and families.
Flow chart of article selection process, adapted from the PRISMA 2020 flow diagram for new systematic reviews (Page et al. 2021)
Abbreviations: GIN, Guidelines International Network; OECD, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; PND, perinatal depression
Perinatal depression (PND) screening recommendations are made by national, state-based and professional organisations; however, there is disagreement regarding screening timing, provider responsible, screening setting, screening tool as well as the follow-up and referral pathways required post-screening. This systematic review aimed to identify, describe and compare PND screening recommendations from member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Publications were identified through systematically searching PubMed, Google and the Guidelines International Network (GIN). Recommendations regarding PND screening endorsement, timing, frequency, responsible provider, tools/assessments and follow-up and referral were extracted. Twenty-one publications, including guidelines, from five countries were included. Most made recommendations in support of PND screening using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Details differed regarding terminology used, as well as frequency of screening, follow-up mechanisms and referral pathways. A broad range of health providers were considered to be responsible for screening. This is the first review to identify and compare PND screening recommendations from OECD member countries; however, only online publications published in English, from five countries were included. Heterogeneity of publication types and inconsistency in definitions rendered quality assessment inappropriate. While most publications generally endorsed PND screening, there are exceptions and the associated details pertaining to the actual conduct of screening vary between and within countries. Developing clear, standardised recommendations based on current evidence is necessary to ensure clarity amongst healthcare providers and a comprehensive approach for the early detection of PND.
Study design
Study enrollment and selection of the analytic sample
Buspirone is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders among reproductive-aged women. To date, the reproductive safety of buspirone in humans has been particularly sparse. We sought to provide preliminary data from the Massachusetts General Hospital National Pregnancy Registry for Psychiatric Medications (NPRPM) on the risk of major malformations after first-trimester buspirone exposure. The NPRPM enrolls pregnant women with psychiatric disorders to prospectively assess for major congenital malformations after in utero exposure to psychotropics. Women are interviewed twice during pregnancy and once at 12 weeks postpartum. Data regarding women who took buspirone during the first trimester were extracted from the NPRPM database. Data were assessed as a rigorously ascertained case series to determine the incidence of major malformations among those exposed to buspirone. The primary outcome was obtained by maternal postpartum interview and medical record review. As of January 6, 2022, N = 97 women enrolled in the registry took buspirone during their first trimester. Of these women, 68 were evaluable and eligible for this analysis. Four women had twins, resulting in 72 infants. Among this sample, there were no malformations present. These preliminary data represent the only prospectively ascertained sample of pregnancy outcomes after first-trimester buspirone exposure. Albeit a small sample, no major malformations were observed in this cohort. The rigorous prospective ascertainment of outcomes is a strength of this study. Future analyses are planned that will include larger numbers of women with exposures to buspirone and comparison with control groups matched for demographic and diagnostic variables.
Standardised factor loadings
The Postpartum Specific Anxiety Scale [PSAS] was developed and validated as a research tool with a four-factor structure; with predictive validity corroborated in studies examining infant-feeding and maternal bonding outcomes. The PSAS has not been examined in relation to birth experiences. We aimed to confirm the PSAS four-factor structure and examine these domains of anxiety in relation to subjective and objective birth experiences. Postpartum mothers (≤ 12-months; N = 500) completed the PSAS alongside measures of subjective birth satisfaction and objective obstetric interventions/complica-tions. Confirmatory factor analyses [CFA] tested eight models, theoretically derived from the preceding exploratory work. Structural equation modelling [SEM] tested associations between each PSAS factor and birth experience variables in the best-fitting model. An identical 51-item four-factor model fits the data well. SEM analyses revealed associations between lower perceptions of quality of intrapartum care and increased maternal competence and attachment anxieties, practical infant care anxieties, and infant safety and welfare anxieties. High subjective stress and negative emotional response to labour were associated with increased psychosocial adjustment to motherhood anxieties. Specific associations were found between neonatal care unit admission and practical infant care anxieties; and infant asphyxia and infant safety and welfare anxieties. Findings confirm construct and convergent validity of the four-factor PSAS and its use in measuring postpartum anxiety. Unique associations were also identified, indicating specific subjective and objective experiences occurring during birth may elicit a differential anxiety response, in that they are related to specific forms of postpartum anxiety which occur during the first postpartum year.
Flowchart of participation
Proportion of women reporting moderate/severe depression, anxiety or stress symptoms in pregnancy and over the first year postpartum (n = 1806)
Purpose The international perinatal literature focuses on depression in the postpartum period. Prevalence and pathways of depression, anxiety and stress from pregnancy through the first postpartum year are seldom investigated. Methods MAMMI is a prospective cohort study of 3009 first-time mothers recruited in pregnancy. Depressive, anxiety and stress symptoms measured using the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS 21) in pregnancy and at 3-, 6-, 9- and/or 12-months postpartum. Results Prevalence of depressive and stress symptoms was lowest in pregnancy, increasing to 12-months postpartum. Anxiety symptoms remained relatively stable over time. In the first year after having their first baby, one in ten women reported moderate/severe anxiety symptoms (9.5%), 14.2% reported depression symptoms, and one in five stress symptoms (19.2%). Sociodemographic factors associated with increased odds of postpartum depression, anxiety and stress symptoms were younger age and being born in a non-EU country; socioeconomic factors were not living with a partner, not having postgraduate education and being unemployed during pregnancy. Retrospective reporting of poor mental health in the year prior to pregnancy and symptoms during pregnancy were strongly associated with poor postpartum mental health. Conclusions The current findings suggest that the current model of 6-week postpartum care in Ireland is insufficient to detect and provide adequate support for women’s mental health needs, with long-term implications for women and children.
Maternal prenatal stress places a substantial burden on mother’s mental health. Expectant mothers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have thus far received less attention than mothers in high-income settings. This is particularly problematic, as a range of triggers, such as exposure to traumatic events (e.g. natural disasters, previous pregnancy losses) and adverse life circumstances (e.g. poverty, community violence), put mothers at increased risk of experiencing prenatal stress. The ten-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10) is a widely recognised index of subjective experience of stress that is increasingly used in LMICs. However, evidence for its measurement equivalence across settings is lacking. This study aims to assess measurement invariance of the PSS-10 across eight LMICs and across birth parity. This research was carried out as part of the Evidence for Better Lives Study (EBLS, The PSS-10 was administered to N = 1,208 expectant mothers from Ghana, Jamaica, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Vietnam during the third trimester of pregnancy. Confirmatory factor analysis suggested a good model fit of a two-factor model across all sites, with items on experiences of stress loading onto a negative factor and items on perceived coping onto a positive factor. Configural and metric, but not full or partial scalar invariance, were established across all sites. Configural, metric and full scalar invariance could be established across birth parity. On average, first-time mothers reported less stress than mothers who already had children. Our findings indicate that the PSS-10 holds utility in assessing stress across a broad range of culturally diverse settings; however, caution should be taken when comparing mean stress levels across sites.
PRISMA flow diagram
Insomnia symptoms are frequent during peripartum and are considered risk factors for peripartum psychopathology. Assessing and treating insomnia and related conditions of sleep loss during peripartum should be a priority in the clinical practice. The aim of this paper was to conduct a systematic review on insomnia evaluation and treatment during peripartum which may be useful for clinicians. The literature review was carried out between January 2000 and May 2021 on the evaluation and treatment of insomnia during the peripartum period. The PubMed, PsycINFO, and Embase electronic databases were searched for literature published according to the PRISMA guidance with several combinations of search terms “insomnia” and “perinatal period” or “pregnancy” or “post partum” or “lactation” or “breastfeeding” and “evaluation” and “treatment.” Based on this search, 136 articles about insomnia evaluation and 335 articles on insomnia treatment were found and we conducted at the end a narrative review. According to the inclusion/exclusion criteria, 41 articles were selected for the evaluation part and 22 on the treatment part, including the most recent meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Evaluation of insomnia during peripartum, as for insomnia patients, may be conducted at least throughout a clinical interview, but specific rating scales are available and may be useful for assessment. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), as for insomnia patients, should be the preferred treatment choice during peripartum, and it may be useful to also improve mood, anxiety symptoms, and fatigue. Pharmacological treatment may be considered when women who present with severe forms of insomnia symptoms do not respond to nonpharmacologic therapy.
Visual representation of the study design and recruitment process
Mean number of awakenings with standard deviation bars. *Indicates significant differences between groups NB. WASO = Wake after Sleep Onset
Visual representation of EPDS scores across time points and results of Multivariate ANOVA. *indicates sigificant differences between T1 and T4 for Responsive group. Scores < 8 are considered in normal range
Cortisol levels during 2 days of collection across groups and results of multivariate ANOVA — Responsive (n = 7), Controlled Crying (CC) (n = 6) and Control (n = 4)
Methods to improve sleep in infants commonly involve some ignoring (extinction) but are often unpopular with mothers worried about infant distress when left to cry. Alternative more responsive methods are needed. This pilot study evaluated stress, maternal depressive symptomology and sleep in mother/infant dyads, between Responsive, Controlled Crying and Control groups. From 199 mother/infant dyads from any cultural background, 41 infants 4–12 months were randomly allocated to Responsive (RG, n = 15), Controlled Crying (CCG, n = 18) or Controls (Treatment as Usual, TAUG, n = 8), with 10 withdrawing after randomisation. Infant sleep (7-day sleep diaries) and stress (oral cortisol on two nights), maternal self-reported stress (Subjective Units of Distress, SUDS), maternal perceived infant distress (MPI-S) and symptoms of maternal depression (Edinburgh Post-natal Depression Scale, EPDS) were measured four times across 8 weeks. Sleep duration was not different between groups but Responsive woke less ( p = .008). There were no differences in cortisol between groups across time points. Maternal SUDS was positively correlated with infant cortisol and MPI-S ( p < 0.05) and mothers in the Responsive group were significantly less stressed ( p = 0.02) and reported less symptoms of depression ( p < 0.05) . Findings in this small sample show Responsive methods are comparable to the extinction (Controlled Crying) in sleep outcomes but from a relational and maternal mental health perspective, are less stressful, offering families potential choices of sleep interventions.
Diagram to show cohort selection
The effect of specific types of mental illness on the risk of reproductive diseases adjusted for adjusted for ethnicity, year of birth, region of the UK and Index of Multiple Deprivation quintile
The effect of specific types of mental illness on the risk of attending primary care for cervical screening, prophylactic contraception or emergency contraception (EC) adjusted for ethnicity, year of birth, region of the UK and Index of Multiple Deprivation quintile
The effect of specific types of mental illness on the risk of recurrent miscarriage or termination, adjusted for adjusted for age, ethnicity, smoking status, calendar period, region of the UK and Index of Multiple Deprivation quintile
The purpose of this study is to characterise the sexual and reproductive health risks associated with mental illness among women. This was a retrospective cohort study of 2,680,149 women aged 14 to 45 years in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, a UK primary care register, linked to 1,702,211 pregnancies that ended between the 1st January 1990 and 31st December 2017. Mental illness was identified in primary care and categorised into the following: common mental illness (depression/anxiety); addiction (alcohol/drug misuse); serious mental illness (affective/non-affective psychosis); other mental illness (eating/personality disorders). Logistic regression estimated the association between mental illness and subsequent risk of recurrent miscarriage and termination. Cox proportional hazards estimated the association between mental illness and time to gynaecological diseases, sexually transmitted infections, reproductive cancers, cervical screen, contraception and emergency contraception. Models were adjusted for calendar year, year of birth, smoking status and ethnicity, region and index of socioeconomic status. Compared to women without mental illness, exposed women were more likely to experience recurrent miscarriage (adjOR = 1.50, 95%CI 1.41 to 1.60), termination (adjOR = 1.48, 95%CI 1.45 to 1.50), gynaecological diseases (adjHR = 1.39, 95%CI 1.37 to 1.40), sexually transmitted infections (adjHR = 1.47, 95%CI 1.43 to 1.51), reproductive cancers (adjHR = 1.10, 95%CI 1.02 to 1.19), contraception (adjHR = 1.28 95%CI 1.26 to 1.29) and emergency contraception (adjHR = 2.30, 95%CI 2.26 to 2.34), and less likely to attend for cervical screening (adjHR = 0.91, 95%CI 0.90 to 0.92). Currently, the sexual and reproductive health needs of women with mental illness are unmet representing significant health inequalities. Clinicians must create opportunities to engage with women in primary care and mental health services to address this gap.
Flowchart for the participating women in the current study
Depressive symptom mean scores at 12, 22, and 32 weeks of pregnancy and 1 week, 6 weeks, 4 months, 8 months, and 12 months postpartum in women with a planned and an unplanned pregnancy. EPDS, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale; W, weeks; M, months; PP, postpartum. Error bars are standard error of the mean. t-tests: * p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001
Perinatal depression is common, affecting approximately 7–13% of women. Studies have shown an association between unplanned pregnancy and perinatal depressive symptoms, but many used a cross-sectional design and limited postnatal follow-up. The current study investigated the association of unplanned pregnancy with perinatal depressive symptoms using a longitudinal cohort study that followed women from the first trimester until 12 months postpartum. Pregnant women (N = 1928) provided demographic and clinical data and information about pregnancy intention at the first trimester. Depressive symptoms were assessed during each trimester of pregnancy and five times postpartum using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) until 12 months postpartum. Mixed model analyses were used to investigate the association between an unplanned pregnancy and the level of depressive symptoms. Women with an unplanned pregnancy (N = 111, 5.8%) reported persistently higher levels of depressive symptoms during the entire perinatal period compared to women with a planned pregnancy, after adjustment for confounders (p < 0.001). However, the course of depressive symptom scores over time in women with an unplanned pregnancy was similar to that of women with a planned pregnancy. Lower age (p = 0.006), unemployment (p = 0.004), and history of depression (p < 0.001) were significantly associated with higher levels of perinatal depressive symptoms. An unplanned pregnancy may have a long-lasting negative impact on a woman’s perinatal mental health. Therefore, women with an unplanned pregnancy may benefit from systematic follow-up during the perinatal period with contingent mental health support.
The purpose of this study was to examine peripartum depression (PD) screening patterns within and across the prenatal and postpartum periods and assess the incidence of new positive screens during standard screening protocol timepoints to inform practice, particularly when limited screenings can be conducted. This is a retrospective observational study of women screened for PD through a large, integrated health system using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) within their obstetrics and pediatric practices. Pregnancies with an EPDS score for at least one obstetric and one pediatric appointment between November 2016 and October 2019 were included (n = 3240). The data were analyzed using chi-squared test, Student’s t-test, and binary logistic regression analyses. An EPDS score of 10 or higher was considered a positive screen. The positive screening rate for this cohort was 18.5%, with a prenatal positive rate of 9.9% and a postpartum positive rate of 8.6%. Single relationship status showed a higher rate of PD overall. Two thirds of women were not screened until their third trimester, resulting in delayed detection for an estimated 28% of women who ultimately screened positive. Few new positive screens (1.3%) were detected after 9 weeks postpartum in women who had completed all recommended prior screens. Obstetric providers should screen for PD as early in pregnancy as possible and continue to screen as often as feasible regardless of previous negative EPDS scores. Prioritizing screening more often in pregnancy and before 9 weeks postpartum is optimal to avoid delays in detection and intervention.
Histogram of CRP values. CRP concentration less than or equal to 10 = 68 (79%); CRP greater than 10 = 18 (21%)
Frequency and relative frequency of baseline CRP tertiles by pregnancy status
To examine associations between high sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations and depressive symptoms in reproductive-aged women with mood disorders. Women (N = 86) with major depressive or bipolar disorder in a specialized mood disorders program provided plasma samples which were analyzed for CRP concentrations and categorized by tertiles (T1, low; T2, middle; T3 high). Depressive symptoms were assessed with the Inventory of Depressive Symptoms. We hypothesized that CRP concentrations would be significantly associated with the following: (1) depressive symptoms; (2) pregnancy, (3) body mass index, and (4) counts of white blood cells and absolute neutrophils and percentage of segmented neutrophils. The distribution of CRP concentrations was highly skewed with a median of 2.45 mg/L and an interquartile range 0.90 − 8.17 mg/L. Elevated plasma levels of CRP were not associated with depressive symptoms, which did not differ by tertile group either before or after adjusting for BMI, pregnancy status, and their interactions. Women in T3 had 5 times greater odds of pregnancy compared to women in T1 (p = .021). However, women in T2 had 11% greater BMI on average (p = 0.023), and women in T3 had 47% greater BMI compared to those in T1 (p < 0.001). Women in T3 had higher mean white blood cell counts than those in T1 and T2, the percentage of neutrophils was higher in T2 and T3 compared to T1, and women in T3 had higher absolute neutrophil counts compared to T1. CRP concentrations varied widely and were significantly elevated in reproductive-aged women with high BMI and current pregnancy, but not with depressive symptoms in this sample of depressed women.
Path diagram showing observed variables (square boxes), latent variables (circles), regression paths (single-head arrows), and correlations (double-headed arrows). A, C, and E reflect the proportion of variance in children’s cognitive school readiness explained by additive genetics, shared environment, and nonshared environment, respectively. a, additive genetic path parameter; c, shared environment path parameter; e, nonshared environment path parameter; bma, linear moderation of genetic contribution to children’s cognitive school readiness by maternal depressive symptoms; bmc, linear moderation of shared environment contribution to children’s cognitive school readiness by maternal depressive symptoms; bme, linear moderation of nonshared environment contribution to children’s cognitive school readiness by maternal depressive symptoms; rma, correlation between maternal depressive symptoms and genetic contribution to children’s cognitive school readiness; b, residual direct contribution of maternal depressive symptoms to children’s cognitive school readiness
Moderation of the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to children’s cognitive school readiness by maternal depressive symptoms
Maternal depressive symptoms are a robust risk factor for poor cognitive outcomes in children, yet the role of gene-environment interplay in this association is not well understood. The objective of this study was to evaluate gene-environment interaction in the association between maternal depressive symptoms and children’s cognitive school readiness. Data come from a population-based birth cohort of 538 twin pairs. Maternal depressive symptoms were self-reported (Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale) when children were aged 6 and 18 months (a mean score was used). Children’s cognitive school readiness was assessed using the Lollipop Test when children were aged 5 years. Analyses were conducted with structural equation modeling. Maternal depressive symptoms were correlated with children’s cognitive school readiness (r = −0.10). Shared environmental factors explained most of the variance in children’s cognitive school readiness (52%). The remaining variance was accounted for by genetic (30%) and nonshared environmental factors (18%). As the level of maternal depressive symptoms increased, the relative contribution of nonshared environmental factors to the variance in children’s cognitive school readiness increased (0.14 [95% CI: 0.04 to 0.24]), whereas the relative contribution of genetic factors decreased (−0.28 [−0.64 to 0.08]). In contexts of elevated maternal depressive symptoms, environmental — and potentially modifiable — factors may be especially important for shaping children’s cognitive outcomes. This suggests that interventions to improve the early childhood environment of children exposed to maternal depressive symptoms may improve their cognitive outcomes.
PRISMA flow diagram for systematic research and identification of studies meeting the inclusion criteria of the systematic review
Risk of bias summary
It is well established that exercise can improve depressive symptoms in the general population; however, it is not clear if these benefits are also seen in pregnancy. This review aimed to synthesize the evidence that examines whether exercise during pregnancy impacts depressive and associated symptoms (e.g. anxiety) during the perinatal period. The review was conducted in accordance with PRISMA guidelines and reporting criteria; literature was searched using PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science database engines. Clinical trials published in English evaluating the effects of a defined exercise protocol during pregnancy on depressive and/or anxiety symptoms during the perinatal period were included. Studies without a control group were excluded. Risk of bias was conducted by Cochrane assessment to appraise the quality of the included studies. Twenty-seven articles, between 1994 and 2019, were included. Of these, only 5 specifically recruited women with depression (n = 334), which all assessed a yoga-based intervention; 4 of these studies showed a statistically significant improvement in depressive and/or anxiety symptoms in the intervention group compared to baseline; however, 2 of these studies also showed an improvement in the control group. The remaining 22 studies used various exercise interventions in pregnant women (n = 4808) with 20 studies reporting that exercise during pregnancy has the ability to improve depressive and/or anxiety measures in the perinatal period compared to either baseline or control. The evidence suggests that exercise of various types in pregnancy can reduce depressive and/or anxiety symptoms in the perinatal period in otherwise healthy women. Specifically in women with antenatal depression, the incorporation of yoga in pregnancy can improve depressive/anxiety symptoms in the perinatal period; however, this is based on a small number of studies, and it is not clear whether this is superior to non-exercise controls. Further studies are needed to determine the potential therapeutic effects of exercise of various types during pregnancy on symptoms of antenatal depression.
Participant demographic information.
Background: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, expectant parents experienced changes in the availability and uptake of both National Health Service (NHS) community and hospital-based healthcare. Objective: To examine how COVID-19 and its societal related restrictions have impacted the provision of healthcare support for pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Method: A thematic analysis using an inductive approach was undertaken using data from open-ended responses to the national COVID in Context of Pregnancy, Infancy and Parenting (CoCoPIP) Study online survey (n = 507 families). Findings: The overarching theme identified was the way in which the changes to healthcare provision increased parents' anxiety levels, and feelings of not being supported. Five sub-themes, associated with the first wave of the pandemic, were identified: (1) rushed and/or fewer antenatal appointments, (2) lack of sympathy from healthcare workers, (3) lack of face-to-face appointments, (4) requirement to attend appointments without a partner, and (5) requirement to use PPE. A sentiment analysis, that used quantitative techniques, revealed participant responses to be predominantly negative (50.1%), with a smaller proportion of positive (21.8%) and neutral (28.1%) responses found. Conclusion: This study provides evidence indicating that the changes to healthcare services for pregnant women during the pandemic increased feelings of anxiety and have left women feeling inadequately supported. Our findings highlight the need for compensatory social and emotional support for new and expectant parents while COVID-19 related restrictions continue to impact on family life and society.
Flow diagram of the narrative review. BD, bipolar disorder
Several lines of research suggest that reproductive-related hormonal events may affect the course of bipolar disorder in some women. However, data on associations between bipolar disorder and menarche, menstrual cycle, and menopause are mixed. This article reviews the literature on the potential effects of menarche, menstrual cycle, and menopause on bipolar disorder. A narrative review of published articles on bipolar disorder and menstrual cycle events was conducted. The primary outcome assessed was the impact of menarche, menstrual cycle and menopause on the course of bipolar illness. Databases searched were PubMed, Ovid, Scopus, PsycINFO, Medline, and Cochrane Libraries from inception to August 2021. Twenty-two studies were identified and included in the narrative synthesis. Research suggested that a subset of women with bipolar disorder are vulnerable to the impact of menstrual cycle events. Menarche seems to be associated with age at onset of bipolar illness especially in case of bipolar disorder type I and the specific age at menarche may predict some clinical features of the disorder. Menstrual cycle likely affects the course of bipolar disorder but the pattern of mood variability is not clear. Menopause appears to be not only a period of vulnerability to mood alteration, especially depressive episodes, and impairment of quality of life, but also a potential trigger of bipolar illness onset. The impact of menarche, menstrual cycle, and menopause on bipolar disorder is largely understudied. Preliminary evidence suggests that a subset of women with bipolar disorder may have their mood shifts affected by menstrual cycle events, with different patterns depending on the type of bipolar disorder also. Further researches are needed to deep the impact of menarche, menstrual cycle, and menopause on bipolar illness.
The primary aim of the study was to analyze differences in post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and quality of life (QoL) between women with and without severe fear of childbirth postpartum (PP FOC). The secondary aims were to analyze the correlation between PP FOC and PTSS, and PP FOC and QoL, in women undergoing complicated childbirth. This cross-sectional study was conducted in SouthEast Sweden. Women aged ≥ 18 years who had undergone complicated childbirth (i.e., acute or emergency cesarean section, vacuum extraction, child in need of neonatal care, manual placenta removal, sphincter rupture, shoulder dystocia, or hemorrhage ≥ 1000 ml) were invited. Seventy-six women answered demographic questions and three validated instruments measuring PP FOC, PTSS, and QoL. The study population was divided into two sub groups: severe PP FOC or no severe PP FOC. Statistical analyses were conducted using Mann-Whitney U-test, chi-square test or Fisher's exact test, and Spearman's rank-order correlation. Severe PP FOC was reported by 29% of the women, and 18% reported PTSS indicating post-traumatic stress disorder. Women with severe PP FOC reported significantly higher levels of PTSS, and significantly lower QoL in five dimensions: physical role functioning, emotional role functioning, energy/ fatigue, emotional well-being, and social functioning. There was a positive significant correlation between level of PP FOC and PTSS. There were also significant negative correlations between level of PP FOC and most of the QoL dimensions. In conclusion, almost one-third of the women with complicated childbirth reported severe PP FOC, and almost one-fifth reported PTSS indicating post-traumatic stress disorder. PP FOC correlated with PTSS and deteriorated QoL.
We investigated whether women diagnosed with comorbid bipolar disorder (BD) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) experience higher disruptions in biological rhythms in two independent study samples. The first study has a population-based sample of 727 women, including 104 women with PMDD only, 43 women with BD only, 24 women with comorbid PMDD and BD, and 556 women without BD or PMDD (controls). Biological rhythm disruptions were cross-sectionally evaluated using the Biological Rhythms Interview of Assessment in Neuropsychiatry (BRIAN). The second study enrolled 77 outpatient women who completed prospective assessments at two timepoints: during the mid-follicular and the late-luteal phases of their menstrual cycles, using the BRIAN, and included 19 women with PMDD, 16 with BD, 17 with comorbid PMDD and BD, and 25 controls. In the population-based sample, all the diagnostic groups (BD, PMDD, BDPMDD) presented greater biological rhythm disruption than controls. In addition, women with BD presented greater overall biological rhythms disruption, and greater disruption in sleep, activity, and eating patterns, than women with PMDD. In the outpatient sample study, women with BDPMDD showed greater disruption in the social domain than women with PMDD. In the outpatient sample, women with BDPMDD reported significantly higher disruptions in biological rhythms across both the follicular and the luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. The comorbidity between BD and PMDD may affect biological rhythms beyond the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. These results support previous literature on the increased illness burden of women diagnosed with comorbid BD and PMDD.
PRISMA flow diagram of the study selection process, outlining the number of studies at each stage: identification, screening, eligibility, and inclusion (Moher et al. 2009)
Meta-analysis of studies investigating BPD diagnosis among clinical perinatal populations. A random effects model was used to estimate the true prevalence of BPD in individuals during pregnancy, postpartum, or the overall perinatal period (N = 1741). For each of the 7 studies included in the meta-analysis, the prevalence rates and their associated 95% confidence intervals have been listed and displayed in a forest plot. The measures below (I², τ², χ²) indicate a significant amount of heterogeneity present among this sample of studies
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a psychiatric disorder marked by severe affective instability and poor interpersonal functioning. Existing literature has highlighted that individuals with BPD are at greater risk for a wide range of adverse physiological and psychosocial outcomes in the perinatal period compared to perinatal individuals without BPD. However, to date, no systematic review has addressed the prevalence of BPD and borderline personality features (BPF) in pregnant and postpartum individuals. A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted by searching three databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, and Embase) on April 6th, 2021. Research articles and conference abstracts that evaluated BPF or BPD in pregnant, postpartum, or mixed perinatal populations were included. Sixteen publications were included in the systematic review (n = 14 research articles, n = 2 conference abstracts), seven of which were included in the meta-analysis. Among non-clinical samples, prevalence rates of BPF during pregnancy ranged from 6.9 to 26.7%, while rates of BPD across the perinatal period ranged from 0.7 to 1.7%. Among clinical samples, rates of BPF and BPD across the perinatal period spanned 9.7–34% and 2.0–35.2%, respectively. Results from the meta-analysis revealed that the pooled prevalence rate of BPD in clinical samples during the perinatal period is 14.0% (95% CI [7.0, 22.0]). Among clinical perinatal samples, there is a high prevalence of borderline personality pathology. This review highlights the need for appropriate validated screening methods to identify and treat BPD in the perinatal population.
The formation of the treatment groups based on the projects
The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of depressive symptoms and associated factors in women who underwent treatments for fear of birth; internet-based cognitive therapy, counseling with midwives, continuity with a known midwife or standard care. A secondary analysis was performed using data collected from four samples of women identified with fear of birth and receiving treatment with different methods. A questionnaire was used to collect data in mid-pregnancy and at follow-up 2 months after birth. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depressive Scale. In mid-pregnancy, 32% of the 422 women with fear of birth also reported a co-morbidity with depressive symptoms. At postpartum follow-up, 19% reported depressive symptoms 2 months after birth, and 12% showed continued or recurrent depressive symptoms identified both during pregnancy and postpartum. A history of mental health problems was the strongest risk factor for presenting with depressive symptoms. None of the treatment options in this study was superior in reducing depressive symptoms. This study showed a significant co-morbidity and overlap between fear of birth and depressive symptoms. Screening for depressive symptoms and fear of birth during pregnancy is important to identify women at risk and offer specific treatment.
Women present a second peak of incidence of psychosis during the menopausal transition, partially explained by the loss of estrogen protection conferred during the reproductive years. In view of the lack of studies comparing sociodemographic, biological, and clinical variables and neurocognitive performance between women with early onset of psychosis (EOP) and those with late onset of psychosis (LOP), our aim was to characterize both groups in a large sample of 294 first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients and 85 healthy controls (HC). In this cross-sectional study, the participants were interviewed to gather information on sociodemographic variables. We assessed laboratory features of interest and conducted a clinical assessment of psychopathological symptoms and neurocognitive abilities. From the latter, we derived a global cognitive functioning score. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to compare EOP and LOP groups, and each group with age-comparable HC. EOP women were more frequently single and unemployed than HC age peers. While cholesterol levels in LOP women were higher than those in EOP women, no statistically significant differences were found in leptin levels. Women with LOP presented with less severe negative symptoms and higher cognitive processing speed scores than women with EOP. Cannabis and alcohol use was greater in EOP than in LOP women. Within the total FEP group, there was a history of significantly more recent traumatic events than in the HC group. Women with EOP and LOP show several sociodemographic and clinical differences, which may be valuable for planning personalized treatment.
Antepartum depression, general anxiety symptoms, and pregnancy-related anxiety have been recognized to affect pregnancy outcomes. Systematic reviews on these associations lack consistent findings, which is why further research is required. We examined the associations between psychological distress, mode of birth, epidural analgesia, and duration of labor. Data from 3619 women with singleton pregnancies, from the population-based FinnBrain Birth Cohort Study were analyzed. Maternal psychological distress was measured during pregnancy at 24 and 34 weeks, using the Pregnancy-Related Anxiety Questionnaire-Revised 2 (PRAQ-R2) and its subscale “Fear of Giving Birth” (FOC), the anxiety subscale of the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90) and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Mode of birth, epidural analgesia, and labor duration were obtained from the Finnish Medical Birth Register. Maternal psychological distress, when captured with PRAQ-R2, FOC, and SCL-90, increased the likelihood of women having an elective cesarean section (OR: 1.04, 95% CI 1.01–1.06, p = .003; OR: 1.13, 95% CI 1.07–1.20, p < .001; OR: 1.06, 95% CI 1.03–1.10, p = .001), but no association was detected for instrumental delivery or emergency cesarean section. A rise in both the PRAQ-R2, and FOC measurements increased the likelihood of an epidural analgesia (OR: 1.02, 95% CI 1.01–1.03, p = .003; OR: 1.09, 95% CI 1.05–1.12, p < .001) and predicted longer second stage of labor (OR: 1.01, 95% CI 1.00–1.01, p = .023; OR: 1.03, 95% CI 1.02–1.05, p < .001). EPDS did not predict any of the analyzed outcomes. The results indicate that maternal anxiety symptoms (measured using PRAQ-R2, FOC, and SCL-90) are associated with elective cesarean section. Psychological distress increases the use of epidural analgesia, but is not associated with complicated vaginal birth.
Growth curve mixture model of maternal depression trajectories from the antenatal period through 54-month postpartum (n = 5664)
The primary objective of this study was to delineate classes of individuals based on depression trajectories from the antenatal period through 54-month postpartum and internal and external resources that are associated with low depression risk. Participants came from the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) study (n = 5664), which is a pregnancy cohort study and is nationally representative of the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of contemporary New Zealand births. Growth curve mixture modeling was used to identify distinct subgroups based on depression scores from the antenatal period through 54-month postpartum. Logistic regression models were run to investigate socioeconomic factors and internal and external resources that were associated with depression class membership. A two-class model, “low risk” and “high risk,” resulted in the best model fit. Most of the sample (n = 5110, 90%) fell into the “low-risk” class defined by no-to-mild depression symptoms during pregnancy and decreasing depressive symptoms over time (bintercept = − .05, bslope = − .05). Approximately 10% of the sample fell into the “high-risk” class (n = 554, 10%) defined by mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms during pregnancy and increasing depressive symptomology over time (bintercept = .39, bslope = .57). More positive parenting-related attitudes, better pre-pregnancy self-reported health, informal social supports, and community belonging were significantly associated with greater odds of being in the “low-risk” class, after controlling for socioeconomic factors. These findings suggest that targeting internal and external resources for individuals across the perinatal and early childhood periods is important to mitigating maternal depression.
To examine the prevalence as well as the clinical and psychosocial factors associated with depression and depression severity in pregnant adolescents. Participants were consecutively registered pregnant adolescents presenting to 30 selected primary maternal and child healthcare centers in Ibadan, Nigeria, who were screened for enrolment into an intervention trial for perinatal depression (depression defined as a score of ≥ 12 on the Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale [EPDS] and met the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for depression). Of the 1359 pregnant adolescents screened, 246 (18.1%) had depression. Mean age was 18.4 (sd 1.00), 58.9% were either married or cohabiting, 91.4% were primipara, and the mean gestational age was 23.8 weeks (sd 5.4 weeks). Food insecurity (going to bed hungry at least once in the previous week because there was no food to eat) was reported by 13.3%. In bivariate analysis, younger age, not living with a partner, unemployment, and food insecurity were associated with depression. In bivariate analysis, younger age, not living with a partner, unemployment and food insecurity were associated with depression, while younger age, being single and food insecurity were independently associated with being depressed in multivariate analysis. Severity of depression was related to age, higher anxiety and disability scores, lower quality of life scores across all domains and poorer attitudes towards pregnancy. Depression was associated with indices of higher social disadvantage among adolescents. Delaying childbearing and measures aimed at alleviating poverty may be important in preventing depression in this vulnerable group.
Flowchart showing the selection of studies for the systematic review of the prevalence of severe maternal peripartum mental disorders in LMICs
Peripartum severe mental disorders (PSMDs) encompass schizophrenia, affective psychosis, and psychotic and non-psychotic forms of bipolar disorders. PSMDs are well documented in high-income countries. However, much less is known about the prevalence of PSMDs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The aim was to review the available literature systematically and estimate the prevalence of PSMDs among women in LMICs. We searched the Ovid MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL and Maternity and Infant Care databases systematically from the date of inception to Dec 31, 2020, for English-language publications with data on the prevalence of PSMDs among women in World Bank–defined LMICs. Selection of studies, extraction of data and assessment of study quality were each undertaken independently by at least two of the investigators. A total of five studies (completed in three countries spanning two continents) met the inclusion criteria. Five studies reported cumulative incidence of postpartum psychosis (ranging from 1.1 to 16.7 per 1000 births). We found no studies on the prevalence of severe mental disorder during pregnancy in these settings. Marked heterogeneity in methodology precluded meta-analysis. These findings indicate that PSMDs occur at a similar prevalence in low- and middle-income to high-income countries. However overall, there is a paucity of high-quality evidence from these settings. There is a need for rigorous studies with standardized methods to increase knowledge of the nature, prevalence, and determinants of PSMDs among women in resource-constrained LMICs to inform policies, service development, program planning and health professional training.
Female authors overall
Female authors in original research articles
Female authors in non-original research articles
Geographic areas of the 1st authors’ affiliations during the 15-year period in all journals examined
Gender parity and authorship diversity are declared goals in the publishing world. This study assessed the progress of authorship gender distribution over a quarter of a century and geographic diversity over the last 15 years in high-impact psychiatric journals. All articles published in 2019 in the American Journal of Psychiatry , the British Journal of Psychiatry , and JAMA Psychiatry were included and compared with data from three points in time starting in 1994. Descriptive statistics were gathered, and chi-square tests were performed. All tests were conducted as two-tailed, and p -values < 0.05 were considered to be statistically significant. Inter-rater reliability was calculated via Cohen’s kappa. In 2019 a total of 473 articles were published. Forty percent of all authors, 42.3% of first authors, and 29.4% of senior authors were female. Counting original research articles only, female first authorship reached 50.4%. In the 25-year period between 1994 and 2019, female first ( p < .001), female senior ( p < .001), and female overall ( p < .001) authorship has increased. In the specific period between 2014 and 2019, overall female senior authorship in all articles ( p = .940) as well as first ( p = .101) and senior ( p = .157) in original research plateaued. In non-original research articles, female first authorship was higher in 2019 compared to 2014 ( p = .014), whilst female senior authorship plateaued ( p = .154). Geographic diversity was low and did not change over time. Gender parity in the subcategory original research articles was reached for the first time in 2019. Senior female authorship and geographic diversity remain areas of concern that need further investigation and specific interventions.
The prevalence of toddlers’ sleep problem assessed by BISQ and parental report (%) among different maternal prenatal mood status. Maternal prenatal mood status included 4 categories: have no any mood symptoms (normal group); only have anxiety (only anxiety group); only have depression (only depression group); have depression and anxiety (comorbid group)
Association between prenatal depression and anxiety with the risk of toddlers’ sleep problem assessed by parental report. The data points and vertical bars show the relative risks and 95% confidence intervals, respectively. Compared with mothers without depression and anxiety, toddlers born to mothers co-occuring depression and anxiety during pregnancy had higher risk of sleep problems screened by parents report. The association was still significant in logistic regression models adjusting for periental confounders (gestational age, maternal education, family income, alcohol use, premature birth, fetal growth restriction, mode of delivery, 3-month breastfeeding, model 2), or adjusting for postnatal depression (model 2 + postnatal depression, model 3)
Association between prenatal depression and anxiety with the risk of toddlers’ sleep problem assessed by BISQ questionnaire. The data points and vertical bars show the relative risks and 95% confidence intervals, respectively. Compared with mothers without depression and anxiety, toddlers born to mothers co-occuring depression and anxiety during pregnancy had higher risk of sleep problems screened by parents report. The association was still significant in logistic regression models adjusting for periental confounders (gestational age, maternal education, family income, alcohol use, premature birth, fetal growth restriction, mode of delivery, 3-month breastfeeding, model 2), or adjusting for postnatal depression (model 2 + postnatal depression, model 3)
Maternal prenatal depression is associated with child sleep. We investigated whether maternal depression comorbid with anxiety worsens toddler’s sleep problems in a prospective cohort study. A total of 1583 mother-infant pairs from the China-Anhui Birth Cohort study were examined. The participants completed the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS) at 30–34 weeks of gestation, and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) at 3-month postpartum. Toddler’s sleep was assessed by the Brief Infant Sleep Questionnaire (BISQ) at 30 months old. Logistic regression models were used to investigate the associations between prenatal depression and anxiety and toddler’s sleep, while adjusting for maternal gestational age, education, family income, alcohol use, premature birth, fetal growth restriction, mode of delivery, postnatal depression, and 3-month breastfeeding. In total, 9.0% of participants reported prenatal depression comorbid with anxiety symptoms, and the prevalence of depression, anxiety was 6.7% and 7.3%, respectively. Compared with mothers without depression and anxiety, maternal depression combined with anxiety were significantly associated with shorter total sleep duration (11.16 ± 1.06 h), longer settling time (29.25 ± 23.57 min), and higher risk of toddlers’ sleep problems assessed by BISQ (OR = 2.09, 95% CI: 1.22–3.57) or parental report (OR = 1.84, 95% CI: 1.22–2.77). However, there was no significant association between maternal postnatal depression and toddler sleep behaviors. Maternal prenatal depression comorbid with anxiety significantly associated with poorer toddler’s sleep. Strategies to regulate prenatal mood status should be considered during prenatal health care to improve children’s sleep development.
Response and remission rates by sex and treatment group in the TRANSFORM trials. CI = confidence interval. Notes: Response defined as ≥ 50% decrease from baseline Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) total score. Remission defined as MADRS total score ≤ 12. Odds ratio = odds of achieving response on esketamine + antidepressant divided by the odds of achieving response on antidepressant + placebo
Response rates by menopausal status and treatment group in TRANSFORM trials. Notes: Response defined as ≥ 50% decrease from baseline Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) total score
Difference in least square means for SDS, PHQ-9, and GAD-7 total score by sex in pooled TRANSFORM-1/TRANSFORM-2 trials. CI = confidence interval; GAD-7 = Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item; LS = least squares; PHQ-9 = Patient Health Questionnaire 9-item; SDS = Sheehan Disability Scale. Notes: SDS total score ranges from 0 to 30; a higher score indicates greater impairment. PHQ-9 total score ranges from 0 to 27; a higher score indicates greater depression. GAD-7 total score ranges from 0 to 21; a higher score indicates more anxiety. Negative change in SDS total score, PHQ-9 total score, and GAD-7 total score indicates improvement for each, and a negative difference favors esketamine
The objective of this analysis was to determine if there are sex differences with esketamine for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Post hoc analyses of three randomized, controlled studies of esketamine in patients with TRD (TRANSFORM-1, TRANSFORM-2 [18–64 years], TRANSFORM-3 [≥ 65 years]) were performed. In each 4-week study, adults with TRD were randomized to esketamine or placebo nasal spray, each with a newly initiated oral antidepressant. Change from baseline to day 28 in Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) total score was assessed by sex in pooled data from TRANSFORM-1/TRANSFORM-2 and separately in data from TRANSFORM-3 using a mixed-effects model for repeated measures. Use of hormonal therapy was assessed in all women, and menopausal status was assessed in women in TRANSFORM-1/TRANSFORM-2. Altogether, 702 adults (464 women) received ≥ 1 dose of intranasal study drug and antidepressant. Mean MADRS total score (SD) decreased from baseline to day 28, more so among patients treated with esketamine/antidepressant vs. antidepressant/placebo in both women and men: TRANSFORM-1/TRANSFORM-2 women—esketamine/antidepressant -20.3 (13.19) vs. antidepressant/placebo -15.8 (14.67), men—esketamine/antidepressant -18.3 (14.08) vs. antidepressant/placebo -16.0 (14.30); TRANSFORM-3 women—esketamine/antidepressant -9.9 (13.34) vs. antidepressant/placebo -6.9 (9.65), men—esketamine/antidepressant -10.3 (11.96) vs. antidepressant/placebo -5.5 (7.64). There was no significant sex effect or treatment-by-sex interaction (p > 0.35). The most common adverse events in esketamine-treated patients were nausea, dissociation, dizziness, and vertigo, each reported at a rate higher in women than men. The analyses support antidepressant efficacy and overall safety of esketamine nasal spray are similar between women and men with TRD. The TRANSFORM studies are registered at (identifiers: NCT02417064 (first posted 15 April 2015; last updated 4 May 2020), NCT02418585 (first posted 16 April 2015; last updated 2 June 2020), and NCT02422186 (first posted 21 April 2015; last updated 29 September 2021)).
Flowchart of the study population
Cumulative incidence of psychosis a until age 50 and b from age 31 to 50 years, in women with isolated oligo-amenorrhea (OA), women with isolated hirsutism (H), and women with PCOS (OA+H) compared to controls (Ctrl) (*p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001)
Cumulative hazard functions of age at onset of psychosis in women with PCOS and non-PCOS controls: a any psychosis, b schizophrenia, and c other psychosis up to age 50. The figures also include hazard ratios (HR) and their 95% confidence intervals from Cox regression analysis for a psychoses, b schizophrenia, and c other psychosis. The data has been adjusted for parental history of psychosis. On the Y axis, the incidence is presented as part of the whole, where 1.0 represents the whole study population
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder affecting up to 18% of women. Besides metabolic and fertility aspects, attention has lately been directed towards the detrimental effect of PCOS on psychological health. The objective of the study was to investigate whether women with PCOS are at higher risk for psychotic disorders. The study population derives from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 ( N = 5889 women). The women with PCOS were identified by two simple questions on oligo-amenorrhea and hirsutism at age 31. Women reporting both symptoms were considered PCOS ( N = 124) and asymptomatic women as controls ( N = 2145). The diagnosis of psychosis was traced using multiple national registers up to the year 2016. Symptoms of psychopathology were identified using validated questionnaires at age 31. Women with PCOS showed an increased risk for any psychosis by age 50 (HR [95% CI] 2.99, [1.52–5.82]). Also, the risk for psychosis after age 31 was increased (HR 2.68 [1.21–5.92]). The results did not change after adjusting for parental history of psychosis, nor were they explained by body mass index or hyperandrogenism at adulthood. The scales of psychopathology differed between women with PCOS and non-PCOS controls showing more psychopathologies among the affected women. PCOS cases were found to be at a three-fold risk for psychosis, and they had increased psychopathological symptoms. PCOS should be taken into consideration when treating women in psychiatric care. More studies are required to further assess the relationship between PCOS and psychotic diseases.
Maternal salivary oxytocin response as a function of exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and nonacceptance of emotional responses from the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS- nonacceptance)
Maternal salivary oxytocin response as a function of exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and limited access to effective emotion regulation strategies from the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS- strategies)
Exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is associated with oxytocin dysregulation in women, such as decreased peripheral oxytocin concentrations, but little is known about vulnerability markers for oxytocin dysregulation in mothers exposed to ACEs. Identifying vulnerability markers may help inform future targets for prevention and intervention programmes. This study provided a preliminary examination of emotion regulation as a potential moderator of the association between maternal ACEs and peripheral oxytocin levels. The current study included a sample of 38 postpartum women. Women completed questionnaires on exposure to ACEs and difficulties with emotion regulation. At a clinic visit at 9 months postpartum, women provided plasma and salivary oxytocin samples anchored around a mother-infant interaction. Associations between maternal ACEs, three dimensions of difficulties with emotion regulation, and peripheral oxytocin concentrations were examined. Linear regression analyses showed that greater difficulties engaging in goal-directed behaviour (β = − 0.50, p = 0.01) and more limited access to effective emotion regulation strategies (β = − 0.68, p < 0.001) were related to reduced plasma oxytocin concentrations in postpartum women. Furthermore, in postpartum women reporting greater exposure to ACEs, higher levels of nonacceptance of emotional responses (β = − 0.55, p = 0.01) and more limited access to effective emotion regulation strategies (β = − 0.54, p = 0.01) were associated with reduced salivary oxytocin response (i.e. decreased change in oxytocin concentrations from baseline) following mother-infant interaction. Difficulties with emotion regulation may serve as a vulnerability marker for oxytocin dysregulation in postpartum women exposed to ACEs, and this suggests that emotion regulation may be an important target for future clinical interventions. Future research is recommended which replicates these preliminary results and which examines how emotion regulation and peripheral oxytocin levels in mothers exposed to ACEs are associated with parenting and child development outcomes.
Person-mean scores relative to the grand mean (a, c, e) and visit scores relative to each person-mean (b, d, f) reflecting between- and within-person differences in (a, b) BIS, (c, d) IUS, and (e, f) BAS-Drive scores and the relationship to depressive symptoms on the PHQ-9. Trend line represents a Pearson correlation
Person-mean scores relative to the grand mean (a, c, e) and visit scores relative to each person-mean (b, d, f) reflecting between- and within-person differences in (a, b) BIS, (c, d) IUS, and (e, f) BAS-Drive scores and the relationship to anxiety symptoms on the GAD-7. Trendline represents a Pearson correlation
Theoretical model of trait- and state-like influences of potential threat and reward valuation in depression and anxiety. Thickness of arrow denotes strength of association
Perinatal depression affects 6.5–12.9% of women, with high rates in women of color and comorbid perinatal anxiety in up to 50% of cases. The Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) provides a translational framework for identifying transdiagnostic psychiatric symptoms, but its application in perinatal affective disorders (PNAD) is yet limited. Here, we identified RDoC-based transdiagnostic features of PNAD in 140 primarily low-income Black and Hispanic women at 272 total longitudinal visits across the perinatal period. Women completed RDoC self-report measures of potential threat and reward valuation—Behavioral Inhibition System/Behavioral Activation System scale (BIS/BAS) and Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale (IUS)—and measures of depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9; PHQ-9) and anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7; GAD-7). Longitudinal mixed effects models assessed associations of between-person (“trait-like”) and within-person (“state-like”) measures of potential threat (BIS/IUS) and reward valuation (BAS-Drive) with depression and anxiety symptoms. Higher “trait-like” BIS (standardized b = 2.33, p < .001) and IUS (b = 2.97, p < .001) scores, higher “state-like” BIS (b = .71, p < .001), and lower “state-like” BAS-Drive (b = − .58, p = .04) scores were associated with worse depressive symptoms. Higher “trait-like” BIS (b = 2.22, p < .001) and IUS (b = 2.73, p < .001) and higher “state-like” BIS scores (b = .92, p < .001) were associated with worse anxiety symptoms. Potential threat may be a prominent, transdiagnostic feature of perinatal anxiety and depression, whereas reward valuation may be a non-transdiagnostic, weaker feature of perinatal depression. Potential threat is important as both a “trait-like” feature that is sustained across the perinatal period and a “state-like” feature that varies within a woman across pregnancy. Grounded in RDoC, this work reveals neurobiological targets for translational research into PNAD.
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