The highest risk of depression threatens parents in the first year after their child is born, states a new study.
Experiencing an episode of depression is highly likely between their child's birth and 12th year of age, with the highest rates in the first year after birth, said scientists at Medical Research Council, London, England.
"Depression in parents is associated with adverse behavioural, developmental and cognitive outcomes in their children," the authors wrote.
"These high rates of depression in the postpartum period are not surprising owing to the potential stress associated with the birth of a baby, e.g., poor parental sleep, the demands made on parents and the change in their responsibilities, and the pressure this could place on the couple's relationship," the authors added.
Resumption of antidepressants following a break in pregnancy and breastfeeding could also be a reason. They also found that parents who were more socially deprived were more likely to develop depression.
In addition, "younger parents may be less prepared for parenthood with more unplanned pregnancies and may be less able to deal with the stresses of parenthood compared with older parents."
The authors note, future research should examine other factors associated with parental depression, such as the couple's relationship quality and stressful life events, as well as the separate and cumulative effects of maternal and paternal depression on children's health and development.
The study will appear in the November print issue of Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.