Date of Award
Pregnancy is a vulnerable period for women, with roughly 15% of women experiencing psychopathology during pregnancy and postpartum. The most common mental health concerns during this period are anxiety and depression, which have been linked to adverse outcomes on both mother and baby, such as low birth weight and preterm birth. In understanding their onset, anxiety sensitivity has been found to be a potential mechanism for the development of both anxiety and depressive disorders. The goal of the current study was to examine the association between prenatal anxiety sensitivity and postpartum anxiety and depression. Pregnant women were given a battery of self-report questionnaires during pregnancy and early in postpartum. Pregnant women were recruited from the central Mississippi area. The sample (N = 43) included women who were 23-39 years (M= 30.26, SD= 3.66) old, that identified as 58.1% White and 41.9% African American. Analyses were conducted to examine prenatal anxiety sensitivity as a predictor of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. The analyses suggest that prenatal anxiety sensitivity accounted for the statistically unique variance for postpartum social anxiety, acute anxiety, and anxiety regarding perfectionism, control, and trauma. Analyses regarding prenatal anxiety sensitivity and postpartum general worry and postpartum depression remain inconclusive. Though preliminary findings, the current study suggests the potential benefit to continue research examining anxiety sensitivity during pregnancy. A limitation of the study was a small sample; however, this study was able to capture a unique and diverse sample, which is generally representative of the demographic characteristics in Mississippi. Future research should replicate similar methodology with an increased sample across additional timepoints to corroborate current findings.
Holman, Ryann, "The Role of Prenatal Anxiety Sensitivity on Postpartum Anxiety and Depression" (2022). Honors Theses. 2539.
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