Depression on rise in pregnant women

Leslie Hanson
July 15, 2018

Factors that Pearson suspects are driving higher rates of depression in the younger generation include, "the rise in the female work force putting pressures on young women to juggle families and careers, social media and the internet, which can increase social comparisons and information overload, financial pressures, especially house prices and the need for joint incomes to afford life in the United Kingdom, and less family and community support and increased pressures on intimate partner relationships".

One in four have clinical depression but most are missed by present NHS checks, the results indicate.

She cautioned, however, that the increase in antenatal depression comes amid the context or rising depression and anxiety generally among young women.

"If the increase in the prevalence of prenatal depression over the past 25 years is confirmed, it is important to understand the potential changes in society and lifestyle that may have contributed to the observed increase".

Looking at the responses of 2,390 of the original women who were recruited to the study in the early 1990s and then 180 of their daughter's generation who became pregnant by the age of 24, researchers found that having high depressive symptoms was 51% more common in the current generation.

It is the first time that scientists have been able to compare mental health symptoms in pregnancy across generations, with researchers saying it marks the beginnings of a new wave of health and social policy research that is planned using data from three generations.

"Given that depression in pregnancy has substantial impact to both mother and child this is of key importance for health services".

Depression during pregnancy study
Depression during pregnancy study

"Financial pressures, which evidence suggests are also associated with depression during pregnancy, are also arguably greater today, adding further pressure to working mothers". But pregnancy amplifies the pressures people face in modern life.

The findings have implications because a mother's depression during pregnancy can increase the risk of her child suffering emotional, behavioural, and cognitive difficulties.

Mental health is a crucial part of overall well being which has become a major cause for concern with changes in lifestyle over the years.

The analysis included a cohort of two generations of mothers from Southwest England who were included in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

All of the women were screened for depression symptoms during the second and third trimester, using the same standard questionnaire.

Among the older generation, 408, or 17 percent, had high scores on depression screening tests, as compared to 45, or 25 percent, of the current generation.

Pregnant young women are 51 per cent more likely to be depressed than their mothers were, according to a study that raises fears that the pressures of modern life are setting babies up for a lifetime of problems.


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