Depression, anxiety symptoms linked to changes in biological rhythms and nighttime activity in new mothers: study
Alexandra Mae JonesCTVNews.ca writer
@AlexandraMaeJ ContactPublished Tuesday, January 18, 2022 5:18PM ESTLast Updated Tuesday, January 18, 2022 5:18PM ESThttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.495.1_en.html#goog_1670168062Volume 90% Mental health consequences of the pandemic NOW PLAYINGPsychotherapist Marci Gray says Omicron is bringing back some depressive symptoms and anxiety for many, especially among young people.Expert on mental health amid the pandemic NOW PLAYINGAssociate Professor of Psychology Nafissa Ismail explains how to deal with the COVID-19 uncertainty and rise of the Omicron variant.Child anxiety, depression doubles amid pandemic NOW PLAYINGIf you’ve noticed your children are a little down lately, you’re not alone.‘There’s been a cumulative toll on them’ NOW PLAYINGPsychologist Sheri Madigan discusses the findings of her study, which suggests that anxiety in children has doubled during the pandemic.Foster care crisis growing in Ontario NOW PLAYINGCEO of Youth Empowering Youth, Michelle Bain discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the foster care system in Ontario.Youth mental health decreasing during pandemic NOW PLAYINGDr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association, says more needs to be done for youth mental health amid the pandemic.CTV National News: Pairing up pandemic pals NOW PLAYINGA new program is pairing up teenage students with seniors to connect during the COVID-19 pandemic. Avis Favaro has more.The mental toll of COVID-19 restrictions NOW PLAYINGPandemic response therapist at the Canadian Mental Health Association Dana St. Jean talks about the toll the pandemic and restrictions are having on our mental health.CTV National News: Pandemic’s effect on students NOW PLAYINGHealth officials warn that the longer students are away from social learning environments, the more damage it can do to their mental health.CTV National News: Mental health challenges NOW PLAYINGThe COVID-19 pandemic is weighing heavy on the mental health of Canadians. Heather Butts on the struggle and ways to cope.Poll shows Canadians’ mental health on the decline NOW PLAYINGReport shows about two-fifths of Canadians are concerned with a co-worker’s mental health amid pandemic. CTV’s Chris Campbell explains.Black community hit hard by pandemic, expert says NOW PLAYINGCTV News Toronto’s Ken Shaw speaks to an expert about how the pandemic has impacted the mental health of Black communities.Dealing with seasonal depression amid pandemic NOW PLAYINGPsychiatrist Dr. Robert Levitan recommends building a routine and trying to have social interactions earlier in the day during winter.
Any new mother can tell you that sleep is an important factor in how they feel, but a new study has found that certain changes in sleep and in biological rhythms are associated with how severe symptoms of anxiety and depression are during both the end of the pregnancy and the first few months of having a new baby.
The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, followed 73 women in Hamilton, Ont., from their third trimester of pregnancy up until six to 12 weeks after giving birth.
Researchers say it is one of the largest studies investigating how sleep affects mood during the peripartum period — a term that spans the time shortly before, during, and after the birth of a child.
- Use of forceps, vacuum during childbirth has higher rates of physical trauma, study finds
- Severe COVID-19, newborn deaths more likely among pregnant people when unvaccinated: study
- Doctors urge vigilance as some hospitals raise alarm about infants with COVID-19
- Ontario hospitals urge pregnant people to get vaccine, cite infant COVID admissions
- Blood test may one day predict severe pregnancy complication
They found that changes in the circadian rhythm and being more active at night were linked to higher depressive symptoms.
“Our findings highlight the importance of stabilizing the internal biological clock during the peripartum period to maintain healthy mood and minimize anxiety,” Benicio Frey, senior author of the study and professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioural neurosciences at McMaster University, said in a press release.
“Given the findings, future efforts should be made to standardize evidence-based interventions targeting these biological rhythms variables identified by our team, either as treatment or prevention strategies.”
The circadian rhythm dictates how our bodies understand when to grow tired and to sleep in a 24-hour period. If thrown off, it can have detrimental effects.
The release states that the three-month period before and after giving birth is one of the most vulnerable time periods for the mental health of the parent in question. Around 15 to 18 per cent of women experience anxiety during the peripartum period, according to the release.
For the study, researchers recruited 100 women in Ontario between November 2015 to May 2018. Out of that sample, 73 women returned for follow-ups at one to three weeks postpartum and six to 12 weeks postpartum, for a total of three study visits.
Participants were asked to report on their own symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as their subjective experiences of sleep. In addition, at each of the three visits, participants were given an actigraph to wear for two weeks — a device that can be worn on the wrist to measure sleep levels objectively.
One interesting aspect of the study was that researchers found different biological rhythms were important to depressive symptoms at different times during the study (i.e., whether the participant was one to three weeks or six to 12 weeks postpartum).
They actually found that at six to 12 weeks, having a more fragmented sleep was linked to decreased depressive symptoms. Researchers suggested that while this might seem counterintuitive, it could be because mothers who were not suffering from depression might have been more able to respond to their babies’ needs during the night. RELATED IMAGES