Contributors to Depressive Symptoms among Pregnant Women




Andrews, Alita R.
Fulda, Kimberly
Franks, Susan


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The Division of Reproductive Health of the CDC has made mental health conditions of pregnant woman a top priority (CDC, 2013). Depression during pregnancy (AKA Perinatal Depression) often goes undiagnosed; therefore, identifying potential risk factors for screening purposes is important for all health professionals. The current study examined whether race / ethnicity predicts depression symptomatology in pregnant women. Additionally, current identified risk factors for perinatal depression (maternal stress, anxiety level, social support, relationship status, education level, healthcare coverage, and employment status) were analyzed in this study. Participants in this study (n=454) completed a survey and were recruited from the Tarrant County WIC clinics and UNT Health OB/GYN clinic at Harris Methodist Hospital. African American, Caucasian, and Hispanic pregnant women were eligible to complete this questionnaire. Variables examined in this study included demographic information and psychosocial measures (depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress-level). Simple and multiple logistic regressions were utilized to predict depression symptomatology (no depressive symptoms vs mild, moderate, or major depressive symptoms). Models controlled for perceived stress, anxiety, social support, age, employment status (employed, student, not employed), health insurance (yes, no), marital status (married or in a relationship, not in a relationship), highest education (less than high school, high school or GED, more than high school), and recipient of WIC (yes, no). Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals are presented. Participants were Caucasian [n=193 (42.5%)], African-American [n= 103 (22.7%)], and Hispanic [n=158 (34.7%)]. Depressive symptomatology was present in 158 participants (34.7%). Unadjusted analyses showed that African American women had 1.7 times greater odds of having depressive symptoms (95% CI [1.008-2.721]) as compared to Caucasian women, but no differences were observed between Hispanic and Caucasian women. Additionally, stress, anxiety, social support, WIC assistance, education-level, and marital status were all individually predictive of depressive symptoms in unadjusted analyses. However, in the adjusted model, only anxiety predicted perinatal depressive symptomatology. No differences were observed by race/ethnicity. This study shows the high percentage of pregnant women with depressive symptoms. Although individual analyses of race/ethnicity were significant, overall it was not predictive of depression symptoms in pregnant women. Follow-up studies are needed to help health professionals identify risk factors of perinatal depressions and direct patients to appropriate treatment.