While containing the exponential spread of COVID-19 or coronavirus has been a tall order for all sections of the population, there is vast collateral damage that the pandemic has done to other aspects of human life and society at large.

The increased level of mental health deterioration due to abrupt and wide-ranging changes in everyday life has been much discussed and well-documented. Now, a study published in a women's health journal has revealed that one section of society that was already at great risk of suffering psychological problems has been rendered worse off in the current environment.

Women, who have recently given birth or are about to, seem to be at a heightened risk of suffering from depression and anxiety-related issues. In fact, according to this study in Frontiers in Global Women's Health, the number of new mothers suffering from these issues has tripled in the COVID-afflicted world.

Worrying Trend

Woman fertility
Pregnant women are facing a greater risk of depression and anxiety Pixabay

According to estimates, as many as one in seven females suffer depression and anxiety-related issues in the period known as perinatal – meaning the short period before and after delivery. But the study conducted by five experts in the field, based in the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, has found a worrying spike in the number of such cases.

The survey, which was conducted in the period between April 14 and May 8 of this year, involved 900 women, most of whom were Caucasians from North America. The sample consisted of both ladies who are in the advanced stage of pregnancy and those who have given birth less than a year ago.

The results showed a clear spike in the percentage of women who are facing the psychological issues enumerated above. As it turned out, only 15 percent of women were reporting signs of depression in what the study describes as 'pre-pandemic' period, but the number tripled to 40.7 percent after it. On the other hand, 29 percent of women experienced the anxiety of a moderate-to-high level prior to the COVID-19 period while 72 percent were suffering from it after it.

What this simply calls for is increased attention to the mental health of women in the perinatal stage. The study also reveals that those women who indulged in 150 minutes of physical activities, at least, which were moderately intense were in a much better state psychologically and more resilient to both depression and anxiety. A ray of hope amidst the gloomy overhang of COVID-19.

Maternal depression continues to impact life-long
Representational image of maternal depression Reuters