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Women’s experiences with postpartum anxiety disorders: a narrative literature review

Authors Ali E

Received 1 December 2017

Accepted for publication 3 March 2018

Published 29 May 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 237—249

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IJWH.S158621

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Leyla Bahar

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Everett Magann


Elena Ali

Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada

Purpose: Postpartum anxiety disorders are common and may have significant consequences for mothers and their children. This review examines the literature on women’s experiences with postpartum generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), postpartum panic disorder (PD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Methods: MEDLINE (Ovid), CINAHL, PsycINFO, and reference lists were searched. Qualitative and quantitative studies assessing women’s experiences with GAD, postpartum PD, OCD, and PTSD were included. Narrative approach to literature synthesis was used.
Results: Fourteen studies (among 44 articles) met the criteria for review to identify descriptions of women’s cognitive, affective, and somatic experiences related to postpartum anxiety disorders. Loss, frustration, and guilt, accompanied by physical symptoms of tension, were some of the experiences identified across studies. Most women suffered from more than one anxiety disorder, in addition to postpartum depression. To date, research has focused on prevalence rates of postpartum anxiety disorders, and evidence about clinical and subclinical symptoms of postpartum anxiety disorders and outcomes on mother and child is lacking. Postpartum anxiety disorders may have negative effects on parenting and child development; however, the nature of the underlying mechanisms is unclear.
Conclusion: More robust longitudinal studies are needed to examine the impact of postpartum GAD, PD, OCD, and PTSD symptoms on the mother and the mother–child relationship to develop targets for therapeutic preventative interventions.

Keywords:
postnatal anxiety, postnatal distress, childbirth, women’s beliefs and attitudes

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