Is Military Deployment a Risk Factor for Maternal Depression?
NAVAL HEALTH RESEARCH CENTER SAN DIEGO CA
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Depression is a growing epidemic that affects an estimated 17 million people each year in the United States. Postpartum depression is a specific type of depression, with symptoms starting within the first 4 weeks of delivery and affecting approximately 10-22 of new mothers. Research has focused on postpartum depression in the general population however, little research has been conducted on maternal depression among military mothers where unique occupational conditions often exist. Understanding depression after childbirth in this important subpopulation of US women is crucial for operational needs of the US military. The study included 1660 female Millennium Cohort participants who gave birth during active-duty service and completed baseline and follow-up questionnaires between 2001 and 2008. Maternal depression was assessed at follow-up using Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders Patient Health Questionnaire criteria. Deployment prior to childbirth and deployment without combat experience after childbirth did not increase the risk of maternal depression. Women who deployed and reported combat experience after childbirth were at increased risk for maternal depression compared with nondeployed women who gave birth. However, among female combat deployers, women who gave birth did not have a significantly increased risk for depression compared with those who did not give birth. Among deployment-experienced women, those who had combat-like exposures and childbirth were at increased odds for depression compared with women who experienced combat and did not give birth. This suggests the increased rate of depression is primarily attributed to experiencing combat while deployed.
- Medicine and Medical Research
- Stress Physiology
- Military Forces and Organizations