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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

September-30-98

Pregnancy Not A Cure For Teen Depression

Although pregnancy can temporarily stave off depression in teens, teen often become even more depressed after giving birth, one study reports.

Dr. Karen Dineen Wagner and her colleagues at the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the University of Texas' department of Obstetrics and Gynecology surveyed "pessimistic" pregnant and non-pregnant teenagers to get a better understanding of their mental states before and after a pregnancy.

The team's findings in the study "support the notion that pregnancy serves to protect pessimistic teenagers from depression. This relief, however, is short-lived, since pregnancy is a temporary event."

The temporary relief from depression caused by a pregnancy may be one reason why teen mothers often face second pregnancies soon after their first. Identifying the experience of pregnancy as an anti-depressant, teens are more inclined to get pregnant again. Thirty percent of teen mothers become pregnant again within a year of the first delivery, and up to 50% within the second year after giving birth.

"It may be that pregnancy served as a protective factor from the experience of depression in those pessimistic teenagers," the authors conclude. "However, with the birth of the child and the demands of motherhood on a teenager, any protection from depression afforded by the pregnancy is gone."

Media Resources: Source: Reuters - September 25, 1998


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