Increased mental illness among pregnant women, postnatal mothers: Dr Manju

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Misbah Ali

Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has left some or the other impact on everyone’s mental status, whether the person contracted the virus or lost a loved one because of it.

Experts believe that during the second wave of COVID-19, many pregnant women contracted the virus compared to the first wave.

A study reveals that depression and anxiety affect one in seven women during the perinatal period, and are related to increased risk of preterm delivery, minimised mother-infant bonding, and delays in infant’s cognitive/emotional development, which may persist into childhood.

Talking about the postpartum depression and anxiety that are common among women, Dr Manju Puri, Head, Department, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi has agreed that there is an increase in mental health problems among women during pregnancy and post-childbirth.

“Certainly, there is an increase in mental health problems among women during pregnancy and post-childbirth. These are times when a woman undergoes a lot of hormonal and physiological changes. She has poor coping skills and needs social support. In the absence of this social support, she can feel lonely, helpless, and depressed,” Dr Manju said.

Emphasizing the difficulty of the 15-day isolation period, Dr. Manju also suggested a few things that family members can do to help pregnant women and postnatal mothers.

“Isolation for 15-days is difficult for everyone, but more so for pregnant women and postnatal mothers. During this time, the additional anxiety about her child’s health can severely affect her mental status,” Dr Manju said.

“So, it is important to provide constant support and assurance to women during this time. The family should stay in touch through video calls, and observe any change in her mood and seek medical help if she looks and feels depressed,” she added.

To observe the behavioural change Dr Manju shared a simple screening question that she asks the pregnant women and postnatal mothers, to identify whether the person is feeling depressed or not.

“We always ask our pregnant women and mothers two simple screening questions: One, does she have little or no interest in doing her routine chores? And second, does she feel sad or feel like crying without any specific reason anytime in the past 2 weeks? If the answer is yes to any of these questions it means she needs further evaluation by a psychologist. Doctors, as well as family members, need to watch a woman’s behaviour carefully during this time,” Dr Manju further added.


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