Anxiety, obsessions, compulsions and depression in postpartum women: effects on parental stress and quality of life

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för psykologi

Abstract: Anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder among women in the postpartum period are understudied and their impact upon maternal functioning is poorly understood. There is evidence that individuals with greater levels of psychological flexibility (the ability to persist in valued domains of living despite the presence of negative emotions/thoughts/sensations) and higher levels of social support may moderate the effects of emotional and physical disorders on overall functioning and quality of life (QoL). The aims of the present study were three-fold. First, to assess the incidence of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms in a large sample of postpartum women. Second, to examine the impact of anxiety and OC symptoms on parenting stress and quality of life (QoL). Third, to explore whether the relationship between symptoms and parenting stress/QoL was mediated by psychological flexibility and social support. Consistent with expectations, anxiety and OC symptoms were common, particularly in women with a history of mental health problems. Likewise, women with higher levels of anxiety and OC reported higher levels of parental stress and lower quality of life. Preliminary analyses suggest that psychological flexibility, but not social support, mediates the relationship between anxiety/OC symptoms and parenting stress/QoL. These findings underlie the importance of screening postpartum women for symptoms of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The findings further suggest that interventions aimed at increasing psychological flexibility may help improve parenting and quality of life in postpartum women with high levels of anxiety and OC symptoms.

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