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As many as 40% of women who have depression after giving birth are also subject to domestic abuse or intimate partner violence. This is according to a new study from BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The report also shows that women who do feel depressive symptoms post-birth report those symptoms about six months after delivery.
Both physical and emotional abuse is associated with a range of health problems including adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes, postnatal depression and future behavioral problems for children.
For the study, they looked at about 1300 women who were pregnant with their first child. They answered questionnaires at 3, 6, and 12 months post partum. Depressive symptoms were assessed at each turn. The study found that one in six women reported violence within the first year post partum. Emotional violence was more common than physical (14% to 8%).
As many as 16% reported depressive symptoms within that first year as well. Factors associated with postpartum depression included emotional abuse, physical abuse, depression in pregnancy and unemployment in early pregnancy.
The relationship between depression and abuse remained after adjusting for other variables including prior depression and socioeconomic conditions. “Depression after childbirth has received a lot of attention in recent decades. Known risk factors for developing postnatal depression include a history of depression, poor partner relationship, stressful life events/social health issues, low social support, and low income. Our findings indicate that intimate partner violence is very common among women reporting postnatal depressive symptoms, and may be an important factor for health professionals to consider in managing postnatal distress,” said Dr. Hannah Woolhouse of the Health Mothers Health Families Research Group and co-author of the paper.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, BJOG
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