What to Know
- Millennial women are more likely to experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy than previous generations, a new survey reveals
- From 1990-92, 17% of young pregnant women who participated in the study showed signs of a depressed mood compared to 25% the next generation
- Researchers are unsure what is behind the generational increase, but suggest more pressures from work and financial responsibilities
Millennial women are more likely to experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy than previous generations, a new survey reveals.
A report, published in JAMA Network Open Friday, reveals that from 1990 to 1992, about 17 percent of young pregnant women who participated in the study showed signs of a depressed mood.
However, the survey determined that the generation that followed fared worse since 25 percent of those women, pregnant in 2012 to 2016, showed signs of depression.
To measure symptoms of depression and anxiety, researchers used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, which uses 10 questions, each with a score of 0 to 3, to reveal the risk of depression during and after pregnancy of the participants who were from southwest England.
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Using this scale, a combined score of 13 and above signals high levels of symptoms.
From 1990 to 1992, 2,390 women between the ages of 19 and 24 took the survey while pregnant. Of these women, 408 — or 17 percent — scored 13 or higher, indicating troublesome levels of depression or anxiety.
When researchers surveyed the second-generation women also ages 19 to 24, which included not only the daughters of the original participants, but also sons’ partners, the numbers were higher.
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Of 180 women pregnant in 2012 to 2016, 45 of them scored 13 or more. Making 25 percent of this group have worrisome levels of depression or anxiety.
The study did not reveal if the findings would be similar for pregnant women who are older than 24 or younger than 19.
Additionally, researchers found that depression moves through families meaning that the daughters of women who were depressed during pregnancy were about three times as likely to be depressed during their own pregnancy than women whose mothers weren’t depressed.
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Researchers are unsure what is behind the generational increase in pregnancy depression. However, researchers shared possible contributing factors.
“Chronic stress, sleep deprivation, eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, and the fast pace of modern life may be contributing to an increasing prevalence of depression among young people generally. The impact of such changes may be amplified when a woman becomes pregnant,” the published report says.
Researchers also allude to the rapid change in technology, internet and social media use and potential contributors since they have “been associated with increased feelings of depression and social isolation and changes to social relationships.”
Additionally, there are more working mothers today than there were in the 1990s and with financial responsibilities, women have to work jobs with inflexible schedules and under greater pressure.