Evaluating the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Postpartum Depression

Malika Waschmann, Kate Rosen, Ladawna Gievers, Andrea Hildebrand, Amy Laird, Sheevaun Khaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Studies examining the impact of natural disasters noted that in the setting of stable rates of depression, postpartum depression (PPD) increased in vulnerable subgroups. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may similarly impact maternal health. This study aimed to characterize the effect of COVID-19 on the incidence of PPD and to identify vulnerable subgroups. Methods: Retrospective chart review of maternal-newborn dyads was conducted over two epochs: pre-COVID-19 (January 1-June 1, 2019) and during-COVID-19 (January 1-June 1, 2020). PPD was defined as an Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score of â 10 at any postnatal appointment. Prevalence of depression and anxiety was recorded. Data were analyzed using chi-square, Mann-Whitney, and t-Tests. Results: Among 1061 dyads (557 in the 2019 epoch, 504 in the 2020 epoch), the epochs had similar clinical and demographic characteristics. Incidence proportion of PPD was similar (16.9% to 18.1%, p = 0.67). In subgroup analyses, this outcome was also similar among primiparous mothers (17.4% to 22.2%, p = 0.22) and publicly insured mothers (23.9% to 25.9%, p = 0.78). The 2020 epoch exhibited higher prevalence of current depression (9.9% to 14.3%, p = 0.03) and anxiety (10.1% to 18.7%, p < 0.001). However, incidence proportion of PPD decreased among women with current mental health diagnoses (41.5% to 31.3%, p = 0.19). Conclusions: A stable PPD incidence despite increased prevalence of current mood disorders highlights the complexity of the biopsychosocial milieu contributing to PPD. Further study of psychiatric care access and treatment is an important next step in understanding relationships between current mood disorders and PPD during the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)772-778
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • intrapartum anxiety and depression
  • postpartum depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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