Ayesha Azeem ‘23
While COVID-19 has definitely affected our physical health, primarily targeting the very young, the elderly, and those with long-term illnesses, the virus has also taken a severe toll on people’s psychological health. Because of the high risk to human health and the heavy economic burden resulting from national lockdowns and unemployment across the world, the public has been severely impacted mentally by the virus. Healthcare workers have been dealing with distress that is greater than normal as they work effortlessly to keep themselves and everyone around them safe.
It has been particularly difficult for pregnant women to receive the medical care they need during their pregnancy to ensure that they and their child are in good health. Previous research has shown that psychological burdens during pregnancy can affect the mental and physical development of children after birth; the reduction of routine prenatal care has tremendously increased distress for pregnant mothers as they deal with both the pandemic and pregnancy complications. A study conducted by Yongjie Zhou and Hui Shi in Shenzhen, China, sought to investigate whether pregnant women have been more seriously affected by the pandemic than non-pregnant women by assessing the prevalence of mental disorders in both groups.
A cross-sectional survey of 859 women was performed to analyze the mental status of both pregnant and non-pregnant (but of child-bearing age) women during the COVID-19 pandemic; the surveys were conducted online and advertised for in hospitals and on social media. The survey primarily asked about socio-demographic information (including age, marital status, occupation, and income), their knowledge of the pandemic, and whether they or their loved ones have been personally harmed by the pandemic.
The study revealed that pregnant women in China actually had less psychiatric symptoms, including depression, anxiety and insomnia, than non-pregnant women. This may be due to the fact that pregnant women had more emotional support from family members during the pandemic, or that elevated hormone levels reduced the symptoms of PTSD. Future studies should focus on having a longitudinal follow-up component and should involve more diverse populations of pregnant women to allow for more widely applicable conclusions.
 Y. Zhou, et al., The prevalence of psychiatric symptoms of pregnant and non-pregnant women during the COVID-19 epidemic. Transl Psychiatry 10, (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41398-020-01006-x.
 Image retrieved from: https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/49785014781_845d5afae3_b.jpg