April 20, 2024

Mothers who have support from grandparents less likely to use antidepressants

Mothers are less likely to use antidepressants if they have support from their parents and parents-in-law, according to a new study. Conversely, the study found that mothers who had elderly, unhealthy grandparents who lived far away had higher rates of antidepressant use. The findings were published in the journal Population Studies and are based on a longitudinal study that tracked 488,000 mothers of young children between 2000 and 2014.

Previous studies have consistently shown that grandparents in good health are more likely to provide support and childcare, while having elderly and frail grandparents can place an additional burden on mothers. The effect of grandparental support was strongest among mothers who separated from their partners during the study period. This is likely because separated mothers often take on primary physical custody of their child and may need support from relatives to cope with the challenges of single motherhood.

The study was conducted in Finland, a country known for its pro-egalitarian policies. Finland provides universal access to health and social services, as well as affordable early-childhood care and education. Despite these generous policies, there was still a link between grandparents’ proximity, age, and health, and mothers’ antidepressant use. It remains to be seen if this link is stronger in less egalitarian countries.

The study suggests that support exchanges across generations are important for maternal mental health, even in a welfare state like Finland. The availability of grandparental support is particularly relevant for separating mothers, who may be at higher risk for adverse mental health effects. The researchers recommend that future studies examine how characteristics of grandparents and other factors, such as partnership and fertility behaviors, affect maternal mental health.

One limitation of the study is that it did not directly measure the support exchanges between mothers and grandparents. Future research should explore how often grandparents provide childcare and how involved they are in the lives of their children and grandchildren. Additionally, studying the impact of grandparents on the mental health of childless women who are separating could provide further insights into the role of support from extended family members.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraaged AI tools to mine informaation and compile it