Background: Few studies have examined the relationship between antenatal depression, anxiety and domestic violence in pregnant women in developing countries, despite the World Health Organization's estimates that depressive disorders will be the second leading cause of the global disease burden by 2020. There is a paucity of research on mood disorders, their predictors and sequelae among pregnant women in Pakistan. Aims: To determine the prevalence of anxiety and depression and evaluate associated factors, including domestic violence, among pregnant women in an urban community in Pakistan. Methods: All pregnant women living in identified areas of Hyderabad, Pakistan were screened by government health workers for an observational study on maternal characteristics and pregnancy outcomes. Of these, 1,368 (76%) of eligible women were administered the validated Aga Khan University Anxiety Depression Scale at 20-26 weeks of gestation. Results: Eighteen per cent of the women were anxious and/or depressed. Psychological distress was associated with husband unemployment (p = 0.032), lower household wealth (p = 0.027), having 10 or more years of formal education (p = 0.002), a first (p = 0.002) and an unwanted pregnancy (p < 0.001). The strongest factors associated with depression/anxiety were physical/sexual and verbal abuse; 42% of women who were physically and/or sexually abused and 23% of those with verbal abuse had depression/anxiety compared to 8% of those who were not abused. Conclusions: Anxiety and depression commonly occur during pregnancy in Pakistani women; rates are highest in women experiencing sexual/physical as well as verbal abuse, but they are also increased among women with unemployed spouses and those with lower household wealth. These results suggest that developing a screening and treatment programme for domestic violence and depression/anxiety during pregnancy may improve the mental health status of pregnant Pakistani women.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health