Depression affects millions of people out there, particularly women. Scientists have already associated it with a wide range of factors that contribute to its development, but the new study could change the way we perceive depression and its causes. According to this study, depression is more common in daughter, but not in sons, of older mothers. Keep reading this article to find out why daughters of older mothers have increased risk of depression.
This particular study was conducted by Jessica Tearne, a doctoral student at the University of Western Australia and team of researchers. Tearne and her team analyzed data from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study. The study recruited pregnant women from 1989 to 1991. Children of participants underwent psychological assessment at different stages of life for 23 years.
Throughout the course of the research, scientists looked for self-reported levels of symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety from 1200 children at the age of 20. Then, they compared results to the mother’s age at the moment she gave birth to the child and father’s age as well.
Results showed that daughters born by mothers aged between 30 and 34 had higher levels of stress. Furthermore, daughters born by mothers aged 35 and older showed higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression comparing to daughters whose mothers were younger than 30 when they gave birth to their children.
It’s important to bear in mind that father’s age had no effect on stress or depression levels of daughters.
Findings of this study were published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
Why this happens?
So what do these results mean, actually? Scientists aren’t quite sure why the age of mother is associated with depression symptoms in daughter, but Tearne has a few theories. She points out; the connection doesn’t have to be biological. For example, difficulties can occur in mother-daughter relationship due to big age gap between the two. When the age gap between mother and daughter is 30 years (or higher), they have different values and points of view. In turn, different lifestyles and inability to understand each other causes tensions in relationship leading to worry, stress, anxiety, and even depression.
According to another theory, mothers who give birth after the age of 30 are 50 or even older by the time their daughters grow up. At this point, they are going through menopause and are already prone to a wide range of health problems. Tearne explains that some studies have already discovered that daughters are more affected by mothers’ health problems and sons aren’t. This could also explain why sons of older mothers don’t have heightened depression symptoms.
Why are women more prone to depression?
We already know that women are twice as likely of having depression comparing to men of the same age. But why this happens? Here are the most common reasons why women are more prone to suffering from depression than men:
- Women have a stronger genetic predisposition to develop depression
- Women are subjected to hormonal imbalances more often than men. This is why many women are depressed during menopause or after childbirth
- Women tend to think about other things more often than men i.e. having this need to overthink and analyze everything. Obviously, this is a good thing most of the time, but according to Psychology Today, it can contribute to depression as well
- Women are more invested in relationships than men. Unhealthy relationships, love/family/social, can have a big impact on women thus increasing risk of depression
- Women are usually under more stress than men. Why? It’s because women work, take care of their family, try to keep their husbands happy, strive hard to build a happy environment for entire family etc.
- Women usually live longer than men. Feelings of loneliness coupled with poor health only contribute to development of depression
- Women are more likely to seek help from a professional which is why national registries usually have more info related to women who are diagnosed with depression.
- 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression, on a global level.
- 12% of all women in the US will experience depression symptoms at some point of their lives.
- 1 in 10 women experiences symptoms linked with depression just a few weeks after childbirth.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the highest rate of depression (12.3%) is found in women aged between 40 and 59.
Depression has a big impact on overall quality of life. The problem gets even worse when the affected person refuses to seek professional help. On a global scale, women are more prone to depression due to a wide range of reasons. The importance of new study can be found in the fact it helps us understand depression from different points of view. As study author said, the connection between mother’s age and daughter’s depression doesn’t have to be biological. It can be a result of a complicated relationship caused by a big age gap.
Remember, it’s important to seek professional help or encourage depressed person to do so.
Sophie Addison is a skincare expert. She is an independent health and beauty researcher. She is 28 years old studied Medicine from University of Washington, apart from this she enjoys gardening and listening music. She has contributed her work for many sites for beauty and health category. She has written numerous articles on beauty care, general health issues and many more like this. You can also contact her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.