Archives of women's mental health

Pilot early intervention antenatal group program for pregnant women with anxiety and depression.

PMID 25074561


This study aims to examine the acceptability and effectiveness of an antenatal group intervention designed to reduce the severity of depression and anxiety symptoms and improve maternal attachment in pregnant women with current or emerging depression and anxiety. Women who participated in the program completed pre- and posttreatment measures of depression (Centre of Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale) and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale), anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory) and maternal attachment (Condon Maternal Antenatal Attachment Scale). Participants also completed a satisfaction questionnaire and provided general feedback about the group intervention and experience. A total of 48 women (M = 26 weeks of gestation) commenced and 37 (77 %) completed at least 80 % of the six session group intervention. Significant improvements with moderate to large effect sizes were observed for depression as measured on the Centre of Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) (p < 0.001), Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) (p < 0.001), state anxiety (p < 0.001) and maternal attachment (p = 0.006). Improvements in posttreatment depression scores on the EPDS were maintained at 2 months postpartum. Participants reported that the program had met their expectations. Partners (n = 21) who completed evaluation forms indicated that their attendance had improved their awareness of their partner's mental health issues and resources available to their family and would recommend the program to other fathers. These preliminary findings suggest that our antenatal group program is an effective and acceptable intervention for a clinical sample of women and partners. It is a feasible addition or alternative treatment option to perinatal mental health care. Future directions could involve more comprehensive randomised controlled trials (RCT) to examine the effectiveness of the group intervention.