When Grandparents Support Mom, Antidepressant Use Drops: Study

On HealthDay News, Carole Tanzer Miller reports on new research showing a link between lower antidepressant usage for mothers and intergenerational family support: 

“When grandparents can lend a hand with little ones, moms are less likely to battle depression.

And, in turn, they are less likely to take antidepressants, Finnish researchers report in the Feb. 15 issue of the journal Population Studies.

Based on a study that tracked 488,000 mothers of young children in Finland, use of antidepressants was highest in moms whose parents and in-laws lived far away or were old and ailing.

‘Previous studies have consistently shown that younger grandparents in good health are more likely to provide support and childcare,’ said study co-author Niina Metsä-Simola, a researcher at the University of Helsinki. 

“Having an old and frail grandparent may even place an additional burden on mothers as they cannot expect to receive support from such grandparents, but instead need to continue providing support upwards,” she added in a news release from the journal’s publisher.

The depression effect was strongest in women who separated from their partners during the 2000-2014 study period. . . . 

Metsä-Simola said that made sense, because these women often have custody of their child and may need relatives’ help. 

Finland and other Scandanivian countries provide mothers universal access to health and social services, as well as affordable child care and education. Low-cost housing with care is provided for older folks.

Despite these generous policies, researchers still found a link between grandparents’ proximity, age and health and mothers’ use of antidepressants.”

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