Psychological Effects on Teen Mothers

Written by michelle zehr
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Psychological Effects on Teen Mothers
Many teenage pregnancies start with feelings of denial. (Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

When a teenage girl trades in a prom dress and Friday night football games for diapers and paediatrician appointments, there are bound to be psychological effects. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry indicates that teenage pregnancy is almost always a crisis for the girl, her family and the father's family. Even after the baby is born, a teenage mom is likely to feel a variety of emotions.

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Psychological Effects

Babies born to teenage mothers are at risk of poverty, school failure, mental health problems and physical health conditions. Teenage moms also find themselves at risk for these problems. Being a teenage mom can have a variety of psychological effects, including postpartum depression and feelings of regret. Teenage moms may feel overwhelmed, irritated, anxious and fearful about the future of their babies and themselves. Others may not recognise the serious responsibilities that come with having a child. Some teenage mothers may be nervous or anxious about finishing school and achieving their dreams.

Causes

Psychological effects often occur as the result of an increase in hormones following pregnancy; in some cases, this can develop into postpartum depression. Teenage mothers may constantly feel tired and sluggish as the result of hormonal changes, which can lead to mood swings. Lifestyle changes also play a large role in the causes of depression in teenage mothers. The demands of a new baby, financial issues, lack of support from the baby's father, missing out at school, not being able to hang out with friends and learning the ropes of motherhood can all affect the emotional well-being of a teenage mother.

Signs of Depression

Postpartum depression can last for days or weeks following the birth of a baby. However, the effects of being a teenage mother can last years or even a lifetime. Symptoms of postpartum depression include sadness, irritability, crying, trouble sleeping, inability to concentrate, anxiety and mood swings. She may even feel like she is unable to take care of her baby or perform daily tasks. More severe symptoms may include intense irritability, lack of enjoyment of life, difficulty bonding with the baby, thoughts of harming herself or her baby, severe mood swings and withdrawal from friends and family.

Treatment

If her feelings of depression become intense or do not improve after the first couple weeks after giving birth, she should visit her doctor. Treatment can help reduce the effects of postpartum depression in teenage moms. Counselling may be beneficial in helping a teenage mother cope with her feelings, solve problems and set realistic goals for herself and caring for her baby. Anti-depressants may also be used. However, she, her doctor and, in many states, her parents, will need to weigh the potential side effects versus the benefits of the drugs. Hormone therapy can also help to keep emotions in check. Oestrogen replacement can help counteract the rapid drop in hormones after the birth of the baby.

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