According to a recent study, today’s expectant moms are more likely to experience depression than their own mothers decades ago.
The study surveyed 2,390 pregnant women between the years 1990 -1992 and found that 17 percent of them reported depression symptoms while pregnant.
Then, between 2012- 2016 researchers surveyed 180 pregnant women (who were the daughters of the women from the first study group) and found that 25 percent of these women experienced prenatal depressive symptoms.
Researchers said these results suggest prenatal depression is on average, 51 percent more common among millennial moms than their mothers’ generation 25 years ago.
According to Cleveland Clinic’s Rebecca Starck, M.D., who did not take part in the research, the uptick in reports could be attributed to the increased awareness and education of young women regarding depression symptoms and that today’s women might feel more empowered to report them.
But, she said it could also mean that there is actually more depression, which could be influenced by factors such as less support and resources, as well as less time for maternity leave for today’s moms.
Dr. Starck said these results suggest that as a society, we need to take a look at the support mechanisms that are in place to help these women and their babies thrive.
She said when it comes to both prenatal and postpartum depression, the best place to start is by opening up the conversation about depression and letting women know that help is available.
“We need to talk to our patients, our friends, our colleagues, our sisters, about postpartum depression,” said Dr. Starck. “We need to help them recognize the symptoms and recognize that there is treatment for the symptoms. It is a huge burden on society if we don’t address these problems when they arise.”
According to Dr. Starck, changes in sleep habits – sleeping more or sleeping less; excessive crying or drastic changes in appetite are reasons to check in with a doctor right away.
“It’s normal to have some of the postpartum ‘blues’ – you feel like you can just cry by watching any random television commercial, but if you find you’re having more bad days than good days, or if you have a decrease in appetite; if you don’t see the funny side of things, those are red flags for depression.”
Dr. Starck said women who suffered from depression in a previous pregnancy are more likely to experience it in subsequent pregnancies.
Complete results of the study can be found in JAMA.