LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year : 2019 | Volume
: 8 | Issue : 2 | Page : 151--152
Will screening for antenatal anxiety and depression improve neonatal outcome?
Indra Bala Sundarrajan, Kalaivani Annadurai, Prateek Bobhate
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India
Dr. Kalaivani Annadurai
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Kancheepuram District, Thiruporur - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
|How to cite this article:|
Sundarrajan IB, Annadurai K, Bobhate P. Will screening for antenatal anxiety and depression improve neonatal outcome?.J NTR Univ Health Sci 2019;8:151-152
|How to cite this URL:|
Sundarrajan IB, Annadurai K, Bobhate P. Will screening for antenatal anxiety and depression improve neonatal outcome?. J NTR Univ Health Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Sep 16 ];8:151-152
Available from: http://www.jdrntruhs.org/text.asp?2019/8/2/151/263637
Pregnancy is a time of happiness and expectations for every woman. Moreover, it is also a period of challenges and stress as a result of psychosocial and physiological changes due to pregnancy. Anxiety and depression are the most common psychiatric illnesses encountered in antenatal women which often goes unnoticed. So, it is a challenging task to identify the antenatal women who are at higher risk of developing anxiety and depression. The most common factors which have been identified for antenatal anxiety and depression were lack of support from spouse and family, history of physical or emotional abuse, unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, bad obstetric outcome, and family history of mental health disorders.
Although screening for anxiety and depression in antenatal women has been recommended in clinical setup, various challenges such as lack of availability of adequate number of psychiatrists, lack of awareness on mental health illness among general population and the stigma associated with it, lack of affordable services and treatment are hampering in getting earlier diagnosis and follow-up of mental health disorders. Even though a variety of scales are available for diagnosing anxiety and depression in general population, validity of these scales is still questionable for usage among antenatal women. As antenatal period is a stressful state with various physiological and psychological changes taking place in a woman, it will increase the likelihood of false-positive results on screening.
Maternal anxiety and depression have adverse effects on the neonate. The immediate effects are low birth weight and preterm delivery. Moreover, the long-term effects were noted in cognition, motor, and behaviors of children born to antenatal mothers with untreated anxiety and depression. These changes were observed not only in the early life of new born but also persists throughout their development. The child born to such mothers is also at higher chance of developing severe mental health issues in their latter part of life and this becomes a vicious cycle.
Screening for anxiety and depression during pregnancy and its early intervention seems to be the most rewarding strategy in minimizing the effect on fetus. Antenatal screening is feasible even in low-resource settings with minimal funds and manpower, as this is a period when antenatal woman comes frequently in contact with the health care facility. Early initiation of cognitive behavior therapy among antenatal women with anxiety and depression shows promising results in tackling this issue, and thereby improving the birth outcome and a healthy baby.
To conclude, further research focusing on anxiety and depression in antenatal period is the need of the hour for developing validated tools for screening. Integration of mental health services to general health care through capacity building of primary health care personnel in administering the screening techniques as a part of routine antenatal check-ups should be advocated for a safe motherhood.
The authors are very thankful to Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth for supporting the study.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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