By Dr. Safiya M S, Psychiatry
Research has suggested that childbearing is not the primary cause of psychological distress amongst teenagers. When the levels of depression are compared, the number of teenage mothers are significantly higher than the number of adult mothers or other teenagers. However, the underlying cause of depression does not seem to be childbearing. Various surveys have suggested that combinations of existing distress and poverty are good predictors of teenage pregnancy. It was noticeable that instead of teenage mothers becoming victims of depression, it was the other way around and depression amongst teenagers lead to pregnancy.
Studies reveal that girls who are psychologically distressed are more prone to childbearing, even if the depression does not directly cause the pregnancy. This fact allows the doctors and educators to identify adolescents who are at risk of teenage pregnancy.
Inclusion of screening mechanisms in order to detect symptoms of distress or depression, in typical health check-ups for adolescents, is essential for foreseeing a teenage pregnancy. Simple steps like conversing with teens about their sexuality as well as responsible behaviour plays a major role in averting teenage pregnancy. Helping teenagers realize their long term goals as well as develop good self-esteem is very beneficial in preventing teenage pregnancy.
Teenage mothers who have adequately planned for the challenges of pregnancy tend to display behavioural changes that are positive. One example of this tendency is that teenage mothers tend to reduce risky behaviour related to cigarettes, marijuana and alcohol. The level of consumption tend to be lower when compared to other non-pregnant peers or their own consumption levels before pregnancy.
It is quite evident that teenage pregnancy cannot be reduced drastically. Therefore, services and research should be focussed on valid interventions that would help teenage mothers in fulfilling their ambitions of childbearing as well as simultaneously having the means to provide for the upbringing of their offspring.