Millennial women are significantly more likely to suffer depression during pregnancy than their mothers, researchers say.
A study of young women found mental health problems during pregnancy are 51 per cent more likely than they were a generation ago.
Social media and the pace of modern life are driving up rates of depression and anxiety in mothers-to-be, Bristol University scientists claim.
They tracked 2,390 pregnant women aged between 19 and 24 from 1990 to 1992, and then repeated the procedure with 180 of their daughters who were pregnant between 2012 and 2016.
They found rates of depression and anxiety rose from 17 per cent in the first group to 25 per cent in the second. The scientists believe social changes are to blame.
Writing in the journal JAMA Network Open, they said the trend mirrors the general increase in depression among young women in recent years.
But they said the increasing pressures of modern life are ‘amplified’ by pregnancy.
They wrote: ‘It is important to understand the potential changes in society and lifestyle that may have contributed to the observed increase.’Chronic stress, sleep deprivation, eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, and the fast pace of modern life may be contributing to an increasing prevalence of depression among young people generally.
The impact of such changes may be amplified when a woman becomes pregnant. This generation of young women has also experienced rapid change in technology, internet, and social media use, which has been associated with increased feelings of depression and social isolation and changes to social relationships.’
The researchers added: ‘Beyond the background mechanisms for increasing depression prevalence among young people, pregnant women are likely to face additional pressures.
‘First, as compared with the 1990s, the proportion of mothers working has increased substantially, and inflexible work arrangements and work pressure are associated with greater depressive symptoms in mothers.
‘Difficulties balancing work and home may be increasing, and this may be reflected by the increase of women reporting “things are getting too much” compared with their mother’s generation.’