Every week we review the most recent publications in women’s mental health, covering topics related to premenstrual symptoms, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, use of medications in pregnant and breastfeeding women, perinatal substance use, and menopausal mental health. 

For more detailed descriptions of many of these topics, you can sign up to receive our weekly CWMH NEWSLETTER which comes out every Thursday.  

And don’t forget to visit ESSENTIAL READS – a curated selection of up-to-date and clinically relevant articles in women’s mental health.

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD


No articles this week



No articles this week



Probiotics as a treatment for prenatal maternal anxiety and depression: a double-blind randomized pilot trial.

Browne PD, Bolte AC, Besseling-van der Vaart I, Claassen E, de Weerth C.  Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 4;11(1):3051. Free article.

This study did not reveal differences between the groups for improving maternal mood.

Validation of the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-7) as a screening tool for anxiety among pregnant Chinese women.

Gong Y, et al.  J Affect Disord, March 2021.

The optimal cutoff score of GAD-7 for pregnant Chinese women was 7.  The GAD-7 offers an acceptable performance in screening prenatal anxiety in China.

Are pregnant women at higher risk of depression underdiagnosis?

Faisal-Cury A, Rodrigues DMO, Matijasevich A.  J Affect Disord. 2021 Feb 1;283:192-197.

In the adjusted analysis, being pregnant was significantly associated with depression underdiagnosis (aOR 3.55, 95% CI 1.66:7.60). Nonwhite skin color women were also at higher risk of depression underdiagnosis (aOR 1.53, 95% CI 1.09:2.14).

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in a Cohort of Pregnant Active Duty U.S. Military Servicewomen.

Abramovitz LM, Lutgendorf MA, Bukowinski AT, Gumbs GR, Conlin AMS, Hall C.  J Trauma Stress. 2021 Feb 5.

Among PTSD cases, the most common mental health comorbidities were depressive disorder (60.9%), adjustment disorder (43.4%), and anxiety disorder (39.3%). During pregnancy, 44.2% of PTSD cases and 7.2% of noncases received psychotropic medications. 

The Crisis of Perinatal Mental Health in the Age of Covid-19.

Osborne LM, Kimmel MC, Surkan PJ.  Matern Child Health J. 2021 Feb 4:1-4.

Exploring Links Between Prenatal Adversity and Adolescent Psychiatric Risk in a Canadian Population-Based Sample.

Faltyn M, Savoy C, Krzeczkowski JE, Ferro MA, Colman I, Van Lieshout RJ.  J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2021 Feb 3.

Exposure to prenatal adversity in the form of maternal health problems was correlated with an increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety disorders in adolescence.

Psychological impact and social support in pregnant women during lockdown due to SARS-CoV2 pandemic: A cohort study.

Brik M, Sandonis MA, Fernández S, Suy A, Parramon-Puig G, Maiz N, Dip ME, Ramos-Quiroga JA, Carreras E.  Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2021 Feb 2.

A lockdown scenario during the first wave of the SARS-CoV 2 pandemic increased the symptoms of anxiety and depression among pregnant women, particularly affecting those with less social support.



No articles this week



COVID-19 is associated with traumatic childbirth and subsequent mother-infant bonding problems.

Mayopoulos GA, et al.  J Affect Disord, March 2021.

Women who gave birth while COVID-19 was present in their communities have a heightened risk for traumatic childbirth experience compared to women who delivered before COVID-19 entered their communities. Traumatic childbirth during the COVID-19 outbreak was associated with clinically significant acute stress response symptoms.  Acute stress response to birth may result in posttraumatic stress symptoms in the mother and may result in problems with mothers’ bonding with their young as well as breastfeeding difficulties.

A validation of the Postpartum Specific Anxiety Scale 12-item research short-form for use during global crises with five translations.

Silverio SA, et al.  BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 21, 112 (2021).

This is the first postpartum-specific psychometric scale to be validated for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gestational weight gain and risk factors for postpartum depression symptoms from the Japan Environment and Children’s Study: a prospective cohort study.

Yamaguchi A, el al.  J Affect Disord. 2021 Feb 2;283:223-228.

Insufficient gestational weight gain was a risk factor for PPD (adjusted odds ratio: 1.24, 95% CI: 1.14-1.36).

Psychosocial factors associated with trajectories of maternal psychological distress over a 10-year period from the first year postpartum: An Australian population-based study.

Wajid A, Kingston D, Bright KS, Kashif Mughal M, Charrois EM, Giallo R.  J Affect Disord. 2020 Feb 15;263:31-38.

The strongest predictors of elevated mental health symptoms were a history of depression [OR: 7.57(4.73-12.11)] and 3 or more stressful life events in the past year [OR: 3.38(2.02-5.65)].

The need for additional mental health support for women in the postpartum period in the times of epidemic crisis.

Chrzan-D?tko? M, Walczak-Koz?owska T, Lipowska M. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2021 Feb 8;21(1):114.

A statistically significant difference in the severity of postpartum depression symptoms were observed among women making a self-assessment with EPDS scale at the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic compared to the pre-epidemic period.



No articles this week



No articles this week



Prenatal and postnatal depressive symptoms, infant white matter, and toddler behavioral problems.

Borchers LR, et al.  J Affect Disord, March 2021.

Depression during pregnancy was associated with diffusivity of the corpus callosum in infants.  Postpartum depression was not related to infant limbic or corpus callosum white matter changes.  Diffusivity of the corpus callosum genu predicted behavioral problems in toddlerhood.

The risk of anxiety disorders in children of parents with severe psychiatric disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Ayano G, et al.  J Affect Disord, March 2021.

Parental bipolar disorder was associated with a greater risk of offspring obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).  Parental depressive disorder was linked with a higher risk of developing separation anxiety disorder (SAD), GAD, and social phobia (SP) in the offspring.  Parental schizophrenia was not associated increased risk of any of the anxiety disorders in the offspring.

Risk of adverse maternal outcomes associated with prenatal exposure to moderate-severe depression compared with mild depression: A follow-up study.

Acheampong K, Pan X, Kaminga AC, Wen SW, Liu A.  J Psychiatr Res. 2021 Jan 21;136:32-38.

Women with moderate-severe depression during pregnancy, as compared to women who had mild depression, had an increased risk of pre-eclampsia (RR adjusted = 2.01; 95% CI: 1.21-3.33); Caesarean section (RR adjusted = 1.78; 95% CI: 1.18-2.70); and episiotomy (RR adjusted = 1.66; 95% CI: 1.06-2.60).

The placental lipidome of maternal antenatal depression predicts socio-emotional problems in the offspring.

Wong G, Weir JM, Mishra P, Huynh K, Nijagal B, Gupta V, Broekman BFP, Chong MF, Chan SY, Tan KH, Tull D, McConville M, Calder PC, Godfrey KM, Chong YS, Gluckman PD, Meaney MJ, Meikle PJ, Karnani N.  Transl Psychiatry. 2021 Feb 4;11(1):107. 

Reduced concentration of placental phospholipids predicted poorer socio-emotional outcomes in the offspring.



The Midlife Transition, Depression, and Its Clinical Management.

Soares CN, Shea AK.  Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2021 Mar;48(1):215-229. Review.



Upadhyaya S, Sourander A, Luntamo T, et al. Preterm birth is associated with depression from childhood to early adulthood. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2020 October 14.

Children born before 28 weeks are more likely to be diagnosed with childhood depression.

Parental age and risk of depression: A nationwide, population-based case-control study.

Filatova S, et al.  J Affect Disord, March 2021.

Both maternal and paternal age demonstrated a U-shaped association with offspring depression.

Psychosocial interventions on psychological outcomes of parents with perinatal loss: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

Shaohua L, Shorey S.  Int J Nurs Stud. 2021 Jan 12;117:103871.

Psychosocial interventions are effective in improving depression, anxiety, and grief amongst parents with perinatal loss.


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