Cognitive-behavioral group treatment for perinatal anxiety: a pilot study

Abstract

Along with physical and biological changes, a tremendous amount of upheaval and adjustment accompany the pregnancy and postpartum period of a woman’s life that together can often result in what is commonly known as postpartum depression. However, anxiety disorders have been found to be more frequent than depression during pregnancy and at least as common, if not more so, during the postpartum period, e.g., Brockington et al., (Archieves Women’s Ment Health 9:253–263, 2006; Wenzel et al. (J Anxiety Disord, 19:295–311, 2005). Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a well-established psychological treatment of choice for anxiety; however, few studies have specifically examined a cognitive-behavioral intervention targeting perinatal anxiety. This pilot study examined the effectiveness of a cognitive-behavioral group treatment (CBGT) program specifically tailored to address perinatal anxiety in 10 women who were either pregnant or within 12 months postpartum. Participants were recruited from a women’s clinic at an academic hospital setting, with anxiety identified as their principal focus of distress. Following a diagnostic interview confirming a primary anxiety disorder and completion of assessment measures, participants completed a 6-week CBGT program. There was a statistically significant reduction in anxiety and depressive symptoms following the CBGT program (all p < 0.05). Participants also reported high acceptability and satisfaction with this treatment for addressing their perinatal anxiety. These findings suggest that CBGT for perinatal anxiety is a promising treatment for both anxiety and depressive symptoms experienced during the perinatal period. Further studies are needed to evaluate the treatment efficacy through larger controlled trials.

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Correspondence to Sheryl M. Green.

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Green, S.M., Haber, E., Frey, B.N. et al. Cognitive-behavioral group treatment for perinatal anxiety: a pilot study. Arch Womens Ment Health 18, 631–638 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00737-015-0498-z

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Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Perinatal
  • Cognitive
  • Behavior
  • Treatment
  • Group