Military spouses face higher perinatal depression risk

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Women whose partners are away on military deployment are at greater risk of developing mental illness during the perinatal period, according to a review paper published in the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University's Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research (VFI) found that pregnant military spouses report more depressive symptoms at all stages of their pregnancy and all stages of their partner's deployment cycle.

The review found that deployment of the serving spouse is associated with and increased anxiety and stress for the pregnant partner at home, leading to a higher risk of perinatal depression.

This can be exacerbated by the stress of lone parenting for the duration of the deployment and coping with the subsequent change in day-to-day family life and parenting roles following the return of the serving partner.

Dr. Lauren Godier-McBard, lead author of the study, said: "Women who have a serving partner in the military not only have to deal with pregnancy and the additional demands this places on their , but they may also be very worried about the welfare of their partner—in addition they are lacking that essential support while their spouse is away.

"The evidence we found indicates that is an important protective factor for military spouses during the . This may be particularly important for reducing anxiety during the deployment of their serving partner. There may be benefits to specialised support for military spouses.

"While this review focused on US studies, the cultural and situational similarities between the two nations and their militaries mean there may be lessons the UK can take from this analysis. However, there remains a paucity of UK research on this subject."

More information: Lauren Rose Godier-McBard et al, Military spouses with deployed partners are at greater risk of poor perinatal mental health: a scoping review, Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps (2019). DOI: 10.1136/jramc-2018-001069

Citation: Military spouses face higher perinatal depression risk (2019, January 14) retrieved 23 September 2023 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Strong committed relationships can buffer military suicides


Feedback to editors