Depression and anxiety symptoms in pregnant women in Denmark during COVID-19

Gritt Overbeck* (Corresponding Author), Ida Scheel Rasmussen, Volkert Siersma , Julie Høgsgaard Andersen, Jakob Kragstrup, Philip Wilson, Anette Hauskov Graungaard, Ruth Kirk Ertmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Aims. Maternal mental distress in pregnancy can be damaging to the mother and child’s physical and mental health. This study aimed to provide insight into mental wellbeing of pregnant women in Denmark during COVID-19, by assessing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Methods. Data from two cohorts of pregnant women recruited from Danish general practice were compared. A COVID-19 lockdown cohort (n=330) completed questionnaires between April 8th and May 6th. Responses were compared to those from a control cohort of women from 2016 (n=1428). Mental wellbeing was measured with the Major Depression Inventory (MDI) and the Anxiety Symptom Scale (ASS).
Results. Questionnaires were returned by 83% of the COVID-19 lockdown cohort and by 93% of the control cohort. A multivariable analysis controlling for age, cohabitation status, occupation, smoking, alcohol use, chronic disease, fertility treatment, parity and children living at home showed no difference in depressive symptoms (MDI). Anxiety symptoms (ASS) were slightly worse in the COVID-19 lockdown cohort (mean difference 1.4 points), mainly driven by questions concerning general anxiety. The largest differences in anxiety were seen in first trimester (adjusted mean difference: 4.0 points).
Conclusion. Pregnant women questioned during COVID-19 showed no change in symptoms of depression and only a modest elevation of anxiety when compared to pregnant women questioned during a nonpandemic period in 2016.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721–729
Number of pages9
JournalScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Issue number7
Early online date20 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank the funders for the financial support. Professor Kaj Sparle Christensen advised regarding interpretation of anxiety symptom scale.
This work was supported by TRYGfonden [grant number 125227] and the quality and continuing education committee for general practice in the Capital Region [grant number 19035774].


  • Anxiety
  • COVID 19
  • Pandemic
  • depression
  • Mental Health
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care


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