Insomnia During Pregnancy May Lead to Postpartum Anxiety, OCD

Pregnant woman not able to sleep
Expecting female suffering insomnia at night, pregnancy difficulties, toxicosis
Women with insomnia were more likely to report prior or current depression than women without insomnia in the study.

Women reporting midpregnancy insomnia may be more likely to experience anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms in the perinatal and postpartum periods, according to results from a cohort study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

The Depression and Anxiety in the Perinatal Period (DAPP) study is a prospective, population-based cohort study of women scheduled to deliver at Ålesund Hospital in Norway. The DAPP administered 2 questionnaires to participants: 1 during pregnancy week 17 and 1 during postpartum week 8. The Bergen Insomnia Scale and Hopkins Symptom Checklist were used to measure insomnia and anxiety, respectively. OCD symptoms and depression were also assessed, as were sociodemographic characteristics, and infant data were extracted from hospital birth records. The investigators assessed the relationship between anxiety and certain perinatal characteristics, including insomnia and depression, with linear mixed models.

The study sample comprised 530 women (mean age, 30.5±4.4 years). Between the first and second questionnaires, the proportion of women reporting OCD symptoms increased from 3.8% to 6.4% (P =.034). Prenatal insomnia was endorsed by 317 (59.8%) participants. In linear mixed models, insomnia was significantly associated with anxiety at both questionnaire times (P =.001). Women with insomnia were significantly more likely to report OCD symptoms in the postpartum period than women without insomnia (P =.026). Women with insomnia were also more likely to report prior (P =.001) or current (P <.001) depression than women without insomnia.

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In a cohort of mothers in Norway, midpregnancy insomnia was significantly associated with both concurrent and postpartum anxiety. Investigators noted that the use of self-report instruments may have affected the accuracy of some data. Overall, however, results support antenatal insomnia as a potential indicator for anxiety.


Osnes RS, Eberhard-Gran M, Follestad T, Kallestad H, Morken G, Roaldset JO. Mid-pregnancy insomnia is associated with concurrent and postpartum maternal anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms: a prospective cohort study. J Affect Disord. 2020;266:319-326.

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor