Background: Antenatal depression is potentially deleterious to the mother and baby. Canadian Aboriginal women have an increased risk for living in poverty, family violence, and substance use; however, little is known about antenatal depression in this group. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and correlates of depression in socially high-risk, mostly Aboriginal pregnant women.
Methods: Women (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal), in two prenatal outreach programmes were approached and depressive symptoms between the two groups were compared, using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).
Results: Sixty per cent (n = 402) of potential participants were recruited for the study. The prevalence of depression was 29.5% (n = 402). Depression was associated with a history of depression, mood swings, increased stressors, current smoker, and lack of social support. Aboriginal women were more likely to be depressed, but this was not significantly higher than non-Aboriginal women; however, they did experience significantly more self-harm thoughts. Exercise was a significant mediator for depression.
Conclusion: The prevalence of antenatal depression confirms rates in other high-risk, ethnic minority groups of women. A previous history of depression and mood problems were associated with depression, thus prenatal care should include a careful mental health assessment. On a positive note, the present study suggests that exercise may mediate antenatal depression.
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