More millennial women are reporting feeling depressed during pregnancy, and new research shows it may be due to the pace of modern life.
Younger women are 51 percent more likely to experience mental health challenges while pregnancy than previous generations did, researchers from the University of Bristol found, especially depression and anxiety.
The scientists believe the change may be linked to the increased pressures of modern life and new technologies like social media.
“First, as compared with the 1990s, the proportion of mothers working has increased substantially, and inflexible work arrangements and work pressure are associated with greater depressive symptoms in mothers,” the scientists wrote in their study, published in JAMA Network Open. “Difficulties balancing work and home may be increasing, and this may be reflected by the increase of women reporting ‘things are getting too much’ compared with their mother’s generation.”
The number of women who work during and after pregnancy has risen substantially since the 1990s, they noted. Many Millennials report difficulty balancing their work and home lives, and that pressure may be harder on women preparing for a new child.
The study first tracked more than 2,300 women during their pregnancies from 1990 to 1992, recording their general mental health. Between 2012 and 2016, the researchers followed up with 180 of their daughters as they experienced pregnancies of their own.
They found that about 17 percent of the first group of women suffered from anxiety or feeling depressed during pregnancy, while a full quarter of their daughters did.
The change mirrored a similar rise in rates of depression and anxiety among women who aren’t pregnant.
“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 researchers wrote. “The impact of such changes may be amplified when a woman becomes pregnant.”
Among the second generation of women studied, those whose own mothers had experienced depression during pregnancy were more than three times more likely to struggle with anxiety and depression themselves, the researchers found.
By Kyla Cathey, Earth.com staff writer