Military spouses have higher risk of perinatal depression: Study

by NCN Health And Science Team Posted on January 14th, 2019

Women with partners deployed on military duty face a higher risk of perinatal mental illness, a study says.

Those pregnant women grapple with social isolation, heightened anxiety and stress, according to findings published this month in the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps. These depressive symptoms that span all stages of their pregnancy and all points of their partner’s deployment, the researchers say.

“Women who have a serving partner in the military not only have to deal with pregnancy and the additional demands this places on their mental health, but they may also be very worried about the welfare of their partner,” Dr Lauren Godier-McBard, lead author of the study, said in a press release. “In addition, they are lacking that essential support while their spouse is away.”

In 2011, about 9 percent of pregnant women and 10 percent of postpartum women had major depressive disorders.

“The evidence we found indicates that social support is an important protective factor for military spouses during the perinatal period,” said Godier-McBard, a researcher at Anglia Ruskin University. “This may be particularly important for reducing anxiety during the deployment of their serving partner. There may be benefits to specialized support for military spouses.”

Being the only parent can also add to this stress during deployment.

Military One Source says there are about 1.3 million active-duty military personnel in 2016. More than 84 percent of them are men.

“While this review focused on U.S. studies, the cultural and situational similarities between the two nations and their militaries mean there may be lessons the UK can take from this analysis. However, there remains a paucity of UK research on this subject,” the report read.

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