APA 2021: Patients with Perinatal Anxiety May Benefit from Exercise, Yoga, and Mind-Body Interventions

woman doing yoga at home
woman doing yoga at home
Researchers studied the efficacy of alternative and complementary treatments for perinatal anxiety.

The following article is a part of conference coverage from the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting 2021, held virtually from May 1 to 3, 2021. The team at Psychiatry Advisor will be reporting on the latest news and research conducted by leading experts in psychiatry. Check back for more from the APA 2021.


Mind-body interventions, yoga, and exercise were effective for perinatal anxiety, researchers found in a study presented during the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting, held virtually May 1 to 3, 2021.

The pervasive phenomenon of perinatal anxiety, which increases the risk of postpartum depression, has received limited attention in literature and media. Current recommendations include psychotherapy and antidepressant medications. However, therapy availability may be limited, and women may seek alternatives to pharmacotherapy or discontinue their medications during pregnancy.

The researchers searched PUBMED for evidence of the efficacy of the most common complementary and alternative treatments for perinatal anxiety.

Those included herbs, vitamins, exercise, diet, and mind-body approaches, which they found to be most common. The researchers also determined — based on review of self-reported and interview screening scales — that mind-body interventions (P <.05), yoga (P <.001), and exercise (P =.02) held statistically significant evidence of efficacy for addressing perinatal anxiety. Evidence of herbal treatments, such as echinacea and ginger, alleviating perinatal anxiety was limited. Acupuncture and magnesium only appeared to benefit women who were not pregnant.

The researchers encouraged psychiatrists to continue therapy and medication treatments during pregnancy but also to provide women with various alternatives “based on their preference and access to care.”

“Although there were positive findings for some studies, there was not a robust or sufficient evidence base for any of the other modalities,” the study researchers said. “More studies are needed on other modalities. Insights into evidence based integrative medicine treatments may be useful for providers to better educate pregnant women about safe and effective alternative or adjunctive treatments for anxiety.”

Visit Psychiatry Advisor’s meetings section for complete coverage of APA 2021.


Ballone N, Moffitt C, Becker M. Integrative approaches to treatment of perinatal anxiety. Poster presented: APA annual meeting May 1-3, 2021. Abstract/Poster: 4589