Depression has been related to reduced odds of having children in both men and women, according to a recent study published in the respected American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
This study, which drew on the unique Finnish registration data, studied the correlations between diagnosed depression and the chance of having children, the number of children, and the age at first birth for all men and women born in Finland between 1960 and 1980.
One of the most important findings was that depression was linked to a decreased chance of having children and a lower number of children in both men and women.
“Depression was also associated with a little younger age at first birth,” says lead researcher Kateryna Golovina of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. Men who suffer from moderate depression are less likely to have children. Men with depression had a 33% lower chance of having a child than men without depression; women with depression had a 15% lower chance of having a child than women without depression.
An interesting finding was that the intensity of depression was connected to the possibility of having children: for men, even moderate depression was associated with a reduced likelihood of having children, but for women, only severe depression was associated with a decreased likelihood of having children. Socioeconomic factors influence the relationship between depression and the chance of having children.
The researchers also looked at whether there were any educational disparities in the relationship between depression and the chance of having children.
“Depression was associated with a reduced chance of having children and having fewer children among men and women with secondary and higher education. For males with a basic education, no relationships were found, however for women, depression was associated with a greater risk of having children “Kateryna Golovina adds
Early detection and treatment of depression are critical.
The findings have therapeutic significance, implying that depression is one of the variables influencing the chance of having children, emphasising the need of early prevention and treatment of depression.
Timely screening for depression, for example, can be achieved by expanding the availability of mental health experts or by obstetrician-gynecologists and women’s health practitioners. Men should assess the degree of their sadness, because even moderate depression can have greater detrimental health and behavioural impacts than women.
“Overall, our findings provide another reason to provide accessible mental health services to young people and to undertake low-threshold treatments and therapies,” says Faculty of Medicine Professor Marko Elovainio. The research was carried out in partnership with the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare. The Helsinki Collegium supported Advanced Studies, the University of Helsinki, and the Academy of Finland with financing.