Inexperienced Parents May Be More Prone to Depression According to a UK Study

For the first twelve years of a child’s life, the whirlwind routine of a parent can be frustrating, chaotic and ultimately extremely rewarding. For new parents the changes that their life undergoes during this time can be especially hard. It is understandable that young parents may be prone to the common condition of depression.

In a study conducted by researchers in the United Kingdom, data from over 86,000 families visiting primary care clinics between the years of 1993 and 2007 were studied. The goal of this study was to identify parents who showed signs of depression. It was found that over one-third of the mothers and approximately one-fifth of the fathers had at least one episode of depression between the birth of their child and 12 years of age.

Generally speaking, 7.53% of the mothers and 2.69% of the fathers suffered from depression per year. However, the rates for the first years were significantly higher, approximately 13.93% for the mothers, and 3.56% for the fathers.

This increase in percentage of depression is most likely explained by the increase in potential stress that comes with the birth of a baby and raising a young child. Changes in a parent’s sleep pattern, the significant changes in responsibility, and the added stress to the relationship all can contribute to an increase in depression.

Parents who have a history of depression, those who were below the age of 24 when their child was born, as well as those who were of a lower socio-economic standing were more likely to develop depression symptoms after the birth of their child, according to the study published in early September in the journal of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

There are a number of causes for depression, both socio-economic and biological in nature. The findings indicate for young parents their socio-economic and the stresses of poverty, unemployment, and a lower support system of young parents can significantly contribute to their levels of depression. In addition, younger parents are most likely less prepared for parenthood than those who are more experienced.