Psychologists: Parenthood Is a Traumatic Event

Three to six months after becoming parents, a quarter of fathers and nearly half of all mothers exhibit signs of clinical depression, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Three to six months after becoming parents, a quarter of fathers and nearly half of all mothers exhibit signs of clinical depression, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. During the first five years of parenthood, both mothers and fathers report higher levels of dissatisfaction with their lives and a diminishment in the size of their network of family and friends. "2009 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that the transition to parenthood is linked to reduced happiness in the marriage and more negative behavior during spousal conflict."

What's the Big Idea?

While our scientific outlook predisposes us to think about depression in terms of chemical imbalances in the brain--we typically understand postpartum depression as the result of biological forces rather than social ones--the lives of parents may be substantially less desirable for very practical reasons. Eli J. Finkel, professor of psychology at Northwestern University (and recent mom), says we have an unfortunate ideology of parenthood that leads to feelings of guilt and shame among parents, who often feel extremely stressed out over their "little bundles of joy."

Read more the New York Times

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