A new study appearing in the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps reveals that having a partner on deployment increases the chance of psychological issues in pregnant women. Specifically, women whose spouses or partners are away on military deployment are at a greater risk of developing mental illness throughout the perinatal period. This period is generally defined as starting at 22 completed weeks (154 days) of gestation and ending seven days after birth.
According to ScienceDaily, researchers found that pregnant military spouses tend to report symptoms of depression at all stages of their pregnancy and throughout all stages of their partner’s deployment cycle.
The reason has a lot to do with the social isolation and increased stress and anxiety felt by the partner left behind at home. These factors then lead to a higher risk of perinatal depression which can be further exacerbated by the stress of single parenting throughout the entirety of deployment. Also worsening this situation? The pregnant woman is left to cope with the stressors of day-to-day family life and the responsibilities of taking on a sole parenting role as well as financial concerns.
In short, women with a serving partner in the military not only have to get through the physical and mental demands of the pregnancy itself, but also must worry about their partner’s welfare as well as the essential support they are lacking while the partner is away.
Social Support: A Protective Factor
Evidence shows that social support is a vital protective factor for military spouses throughout the perinatal period, particularly when it comes to the reduction of anxiety during deployment.
According to PsychCentral, wives of active-duty soldiers are more likely to be diagnosed not just with depression but with anxiety, sleep disorders and other mental health conditions. Furthermore, while much attention is paid to the mental health of soldiers themselves, much less attention is paid to the families of those soldiers who have remained at home.
This study and others like it show what many psychiatrists and psychologists have known for quite some time: the emotional toll for war-time deployments is much higher than anyone realizes.
Contact Comprehensive MedPsych Systems
If you have a military partner on deployment and are experiencing feelings of prolonged sadness, anxiety and stress, make an appointment with us today. Therapy and support groups can help relieve this stress.