Anxious personality traits in pregnant women: Associations with postpartum depression, delivery complications and health care use

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Auditorium minus, Museum Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Axfors, Cathrine
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Psykiatri, Akademiska sjukhuset
  • Kontaktperson: Axfors, Cathrine
  • Disputation

Anxious personality traits, including those encompassed by negative emotionality (neuroticism) and the tendency to worry about close relationships (attachment anxiety) during pregnancy were the focus of this thesis. The overall aim was to examine perinatal correlates of these characteris-tics in terms of psychiatric and obstetric health as well as antenatal care (ANC).

Papers I-II were part of a large population-based project on pregnant women in Uppsala in 2009-2012 (n=2160). Papers III-IV adjoined participants from several projects in 2005-2011, on oral contraceptive use, infertility, induced abortion, premenstrual mood disorder, and perina-tal depression (n=2819). The participants reported on the Swedish universities Scales of Per-sonality for neuroticism (papers II-IV) and the Attachment Style Questionnaire (ASQ) for attachment anxiety (papers I-II). The participants also answered the Edinburgh Postnatal De-pression Scale on depressive symptoms (paper II). In paper III, information on obstetric com-plications for primiparous women with singleton pregnancies (n=1969) was extracted from Swedish national health registers. In paper IV, ANC use was derived from medical records of obstetric low-risk women residing in Uppsala (n=1052).

The ASQ had similar psychometric properties in pregnant women (n=1631) as in previous reports (paper I). In non-depressed pregnant women (n=1431), the combination of neuroticism and attachment anxiety was the best risk indicator of postpartum depressive symptoms (paper II). Whereas high neuroticism was not related to obstetric complications (paper III), it was associated with higher use of ANC (paper IV).

Summarized, this thesis illustrates how anxious personality traits may predispose for post-partum depression and higher use of ANC in the absence of obstetric complications. Future development of these findings should be to evaluate individual and societal benefits of a greater emphasis on psychological support in ANC.