If you’re feeling depressed after a childbirth, you might want to consider adopting a childless approach to living a healthy life, according to the new research.
Researchers at Emory University, University of California at San Francisco, and the University of Michigan examined whether or not depression was related to how a mother and her child feel after childbirth.
The research looked at 6,873 mothers who had given birth to children aged between 10 and 17 in the United States between 2005 and 2010.
They found that mothers who gave birth to a child who was not biologically related to them reported a higher depression level than mothers who did.
Researchers said this may be because a mother’s biological relationship to her child may have affected how she felt during childbirth.
“What we found was that women who were raised by single parents were less likely to report a depressed mood, and they also tended to report more depression and anxiety during childbirth,” said study lead author Laura M. Tuckett, a doctoral student in the Department of Family Medicine at Emerson College.
“And in fact, they had higher rates of depression and suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior and substance abuse, and lower life satisfaction.”
The researchers also found that having a child outside of the family was linked to a lower depression level.
They looked at the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors in a sample of 2,965 mothers of childless children.
Researchers found that children raised by married or cohabiting mothers had lower depression scores, and children raised with single parents had higher depression scores than children raised in married or single-parent families.
These results suggest that there may be a link between depression and cohabitation, Tuckets said.
“We think there’s some other factors that may be affecting depression levels,” she said.
“So we think that the relationship between depression, cohabitant childlessness, and coital depression may be causal.”
The findings could have implications for couples who decide to live together, Tinkett said.
If a couple decides to live apart, they might be more likely to experience cohabital depression, she said, because cohabiters may experience more depression.
Tuckett said the study does not indicate that cohabitors experience more childlessness than single-mother households.
But she added that it could mean that coexisting with cohabited mothers may help reduce cohabitational depression.
“The idea that co-habitation is associated with depression is not necessarily a strong enough explanation for cohabitating to be a risk factor,” Tucketts said.
The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.