The study, 'Prevalence of Prenatal Depression Symptoms Among 2 Generations of Pregnant Mothers The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children' was published this month in JAMA Open Network.
'Young women are 51 per cent more likely than their mothers to experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy, a new study suggests.
A unique project following women during their pregnancy in the 1990s, and now their daughters as they become mothers, has unearthed the worrying increase in mental health problems between the generations.
Understanding these factors is vital because depression in pregnancy can have a “significant impact” on both mother and child, said the authors of the research – published in JAMA Open Network on Friday.
It’s driven by a particular cluster of issues; feeling overwhelmed, not being able to sleep, things getting on top of you, and stress. If we think what’s changed, the female workforce has increased in the past 25 years and there are two elements relevant to mental health, one is young women’s aspirations and ambition – and whether that becomes trickier to achieve by becoming pregnant. The other is one of practicality of having to go to work; the physical and mental exhaustion of having to work while pregnant.
- Dr Rebecca Pearson, a lecturer in psychiatric epidemiology, University of Bristol
Dr Pearson added: “Our findings suggest this rise, and what women are feeling, is much more in the domain of anxiety and stress. Women are not coming forward because they don’t identify with the more depressed side and they’re not coming forward for help.”
“Given that depression in pregnancy has substantial impact to both mother and child, this is of key importance for health services.”
The findings are drawn from the Bristol Children of the 1990s longitudinal study and is thought to be the only study in the world to have identically tested women across two generations.
There are also financial pressures caused by the rises in house prices and cost of living, she added.
The findings show that issues of low mood and sadness which are key parts of clinical depression are relatively stable, but anxiety disorders are becoming much more common and can still affect both mother and child.'