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Canadian study reveals post-natal depression has amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic

The term ‘mental health’ has been talked about a lot in the past few weeks. With some happenings that shook people to their very core, mental health became a topic of extensive debate and discussion for everyone. Be it news channels, podcasts or social media videos, all covered this and shed light on the same. Mental health is increasingly becoming an important and serious talking point among individuals. With time, people have started to realize that it is as important as physical health and it is crucial to be aware about it. With the world becoming too fast and advanced, humans have been reduced to machines, and this has resulted in serious health issues be it physical or mental. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed lakhs of lives all across the world and forced people to stay indoors, has made matters much worse. It has brought monotonousness to people, their lives, and daily routine. This has resulted in increased mental health issues.

A recent study reveals that post-natal depression has increased alarmingly during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Postnatal depression is a type of depression that many parents experience after having a baby. It’s a common problem, affecting more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth. Its symptoms include women feeling a bit down, tearful or anxious in the first week after giving birth.

The study was carried out by a prominent Canadian university and was reported in a distinguished British newspaper. It reveals that there has been 41 percent increase from earlier 15 percent in women suffering from maternal depression. Further, it states that women who are experiencing mild to high anxiety symptoms have increased from 29 percent to 72 percent. The scientists mentioned that before the pandemic began, 29 per cent of those women experienced moderate to high anxiety symptoms, and 15 per cent experienced depressive symptoms. However, the study noted that during the pandemic, these numbers have increased with 72 percent experiencing anxiety and 41 per cent dealing with depression.

In order to arrive at the conclusion, the study surveyed a total of 900 women- 520 who were pregnant and 380 who had become mothers in the last year. They were asked to talk about and describe their anxiety and depression symptoms before and during the pandemic. In the report, Dr. Margie Davenport, co-author of the study was quoted as saying:
“The social and physical isolation measures that are critically needed to reduce the spread of the virus are taking a toll on the physical and mental health of many of us. We know that experiencing depression and anxiety during pregnancy and the postpartum period can have detrimental effects on the mental and physical health of both mother and baby that can persist for years.”

Furthermore, of the total women surveyed, 64 percent said that they reduced their physical activity since the pandemic began. The lockdown has forced gyms and physical activity centers to shut down and as per the researchers, limited physical activity may be a reason behind the rise in depression. In the same study, it was revealed that women who engaged themselves in any kind of moderate physical activity in a week had lower symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Davenport further added maternal mental health is a critical issue and needs to be paid attention to. She remarked,
“Even when we are not in a global pandemic, many pregnant and postpartum women frequently feel isolated whether due to being hospitalized, not having family or friends around or other reasons. It is critical to increase awareness of the impact of social isolation on the mental health of pregnant and postpartum women.”

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