Predictors of mental health during pregnancy

Razieh Rezaee, Mahbobeh Framarzi



Background: Pregnancy with anxious or depressive symptoms might be associated with worse birth outcomes. The aim of this study was to determine the demographic predictors of anxiety and depression symptoms in pregnant women.

Materials and Methods: We assessed pregnancy anxiety and depression levels among 142 women in three trimesters. All subjects completed two questionnaires: Demographic scale and the 21‑item Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS‑21) questionnaire. Chi‑square test and regression analysis were used to assess the association between anxiety and depression symptoms with maternal age, maternal education, family income, gestational age, body mass index, parity, and pregnancy risk.

Results: 25.3% of the pregnant women reported having depressive symptoms. Also, 49.3% of the subjects reported having anxiety symptoms. There was positive correlation between body mass index, gestational age, and pregnancy risk with depression symptom. Also, there was negative correlation between family income and maternal education level with anxiety symptom. In linear regression model, the variables of maternal age, maternal education, parity, abortion, gestational age, family income, body mass index, and pregnancy risk predicted 44.7% anxiety (F = 1.903, P = 0.006) and 68.1% depression (F = 2.101, P =  0.003). The strongest predictors of depression in pregnant women were pregnancy risk (β = 0.361, P = 0.001) and maternal education (β = −0.297, P = 0.006). Also, pregnancy risk (β = 0.523, P = 0.001) and gestational age (β = 0.477, P = 0.01) were the important predictors of maternal anxiety in the pregnancy period.

Conclusions: Pregnancy risk, gestational age, and education level are the strongest predictors of mental health in the pregnancy period. This result suggests that psychological support is needed for pregnant women with high risk and low education, especially in the third trimester, to improve their mental health.

Key words: Anxiety, depression, pregnancy

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