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Economic pressure major source of depression among mothers: survey

2012/05/13 22:20:21

Taipei, May 13 (CNA) Financial pressures associated with having children is a major source of depression among pregnant women or new mothers, a recent survey conducted by the Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Mombaby Magazine has found.

Forty percent of the women polled said that economic pressures were at the top of the list of factors that made them feel unhappy.

These economic pressures faced by women who were about to have a child or had just given birth may also present a growing threat to their health and well-being, according to the survey.

A total of 82.6 percent of the poll's respondents scored above 13 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, which indicates mothers or pregnant women may have a depressive illness that requires medical help, while 12.9 percent, who scored between 10-12, needed to be monitored or consult a doctor.

Just over two-thirds (67.1 percent) of respondents said the thought of hurting themselves had occurred to them.

The scale is based on a 10-item questionnaire designed for pregnant women and mothers who have just given birth to a baby, and it describes how they have felt in the seven days prior to answering the questions.

Huang Chien-pei, a doctor with the obstetrics and gynecology department at Mackay Memorial Hospital, said it was rare to see over 50 percent of pregnant women or new moms suffering from depression, as defined by the Edinburgh scale.

He suggested that the abnormally high incidence of depression indicated by the survey suggested that the increasingly difficult economic environment, characterized by rising prices, has become a major source of their unhappiness.

More than 80 percent of respondents who lived in households with incomes over NT$60,000 (US$2,041) per month also experienced depression, indicating that financial pressures were not only being felt by low-income families, Huang said.

The survey also found that having a son to carry on the family line is no longer the major source of pressure for families in Taiwan.

Instead, simply deciding whether or not to have children has become the biggest headache because of the potential financial pressures involved.

Over 50 percent of the survey's respondents said they had only one child, 16 percent had two, and only 1.7 percent had three children, according to the survey.

The survey was conducted between March 19 and April 10 and based on 2,000 valid questionnaires from pregnant women and mothers who had just given birth. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 2.19 percentage points.

(By Chen Ching-fang and Nell Shen)