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Anxiety and depressive symptoms related to parenthood in a large Norwegian community sample: the HUNT2 study
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Medicine.
University of California, Merced.
2010 (English)In: Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, ISSN 0933-7954, E-ISSN 1433-9285, Vol. 45, no 7, 713-721 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

INTRODUCTION: The study compared anxiety and depression prevalence between parents and non-parents in a society with family- and parenthood-friendly social politics, controlling for family status and family history, age, gender, education and social class. METHODS: All participants aged 30-49 (N = 24,040) in the large, non-sampled Norwegian HUNT2 community health study completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scales. RESULTS: The slightly elevated anxiety and depression among non-parents compared to parents in the complete sample was not confirmed as statistically significant within any subgroups. Married parents and (previously unmarried) cohabiting parents did not differ in portraying low anxiety and depression prevalence. Anxiety was associated with single parenthood, living alone or being divorced, while elevated depression was found only among those living alone. DISCUSSION: Burdening selection and cultural/political context are suggested as interpretative perspectives on the contextual and personal influences on the complex relationship between parenthood and mental health.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2010. Vol. 45, no 7, 713-721 p.
National Category
Psychiatry, child psychiatry
URN: urn:nbn:no:ntnu:diva-15576DOI: 10.1007/s00127-009-0110-9OAI: diva2:503180

This article is published with open access at

Available from: 2012-03-27 Created: 2012-02-15 Last updated: 2012-03-27Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Emotional distress and parenting among community and clinic parents
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Emotional distress and parenting among community and clinic parents
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the distribution of and the change in parental emotional distress and parenting dimensions by combining samples of community parents, non-parents and clinic parents. Clinic parents were involved in intensive inpatient family treatment related to their children’s psychiatric problems. Research questions: The focal themes of the three research questions were as follows: 1) Anxiety and depression among community parent and non-parent subgroups, 2) The stability of parenting dimensions among community parents 3) Longitudinal changes in parents related to family inpatient treatment in child psychiatry. Anxiety and depression among community parents. Overall, parenthood itself did not seem to have a primary influence on anxiety and depression in the population. In a large community health study (HUNT2) parents displayed only slightly less anxiety than nonparents, however, previous divorce and single status were found to be the risk factors for current anxiety, whereas single status was a risk factor for current depression. In the analyses, social class, education, gender and age were controlled for. Married and previously unmarried cohabiters represented the base level regarding anxiety and depression. The differences between these current results from Norway and results of previous research from the United States may be explained by the better economic conditions for families, more liberal attitudes regarding cohabitation and single parents and generous parental leave, child-care and supportive family policies. Parenting Stability: Parenting warmth was highly stable across the nine-month evaluation period, although it was not as stable as personality traits were. However, most of the observed instability in warmth originated from a small group of parents and was associated with low warmth, personality traits and experience with low maternal warmth in the parents’ own childhood. Stable low warmth was a rare occurrence. Parenting protectiveness was moderately stable, and its instability was associated with high protectiveness scores. Parenting authoritarianism was the most unstable; only one-third of parents reported the same level of authoritarianism when asked again after nine months. Longitudinal follow-up of parents in child psychiatry family inpatient clinics. Parents of children with attention, learning and developmental disorders reported significantly higher parenting warmth scores 3-month and 12-month follow-ups after treatment, compared to scores at the start of treatment, but it still remained lower than among community parents. However, normal levels of parenting warmth were reported at all points by parents of children with emotional problems, whereas no improvement was observed in parents of children with behavioral problems. Maternal anxiety and depression also improved significantly at 3-month and 12-month after treatment, yet anxiety and depression remained higher among family clinic mothers than among community mothers. Improvements in anxiety and depression were not related to child diagnostic categories. However, a reduction in parental anxiety was related to a general reduction in children’s symptoms, whereas a reduction in parental depression was related to improved parenting warmth.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
NTNU: , 2012
Doctoral theses at NTNU, ISSN 1503-8181 ; 2012:54Dissertations at the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 0805-7680 ; 533
urn:nbn:no:ntnu:diva-16097 (URN)
Available from: 2012-03-27 Created: 2012-03-27 Last updated: 2014-03-26Bibliographically approved

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