Original Study| Volume 27, ISSUE 3, P138-150, June 2014

Adolescents, Pregnancy, and Mental Health

Published:September 26, 2013DOI:


      Study Objective

      Pregnancy during adolescence is a risk factor for adverse medical and psychosocial outcomes, including psychiatric illness. Psychiatric illness is linked with obstetric complications along with impaired maternal functioning in the postpartum period. This article provides a comprehensive review of the research examining the intersection of psychopathology and adolescent pregnancy and the postpartum period.


      A literature search was conducted using PubMed (Medline), PsycINFO, and CINAHL for articles published between 1990 and 2013 that examined depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and psychosis during pregnancy and the postpartum period in adolescents age 21 years or younger. Articles were selected that covered the following topics: Prevalence or incidence, comorbidity, psychosocial correlates, birth outcomes, parenting, child outcomes, and psychosocial treatment. Forty articles were found and reviewed.


      There is a substantial research base examining self-reported depressive symptoms in adolescents during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Existing research suggests that pregnant and parenting adolescents are at greater risk for experiencing depressive symptoms than pregnant and postpartum adult women. Depression in the perinatal period is also a risk factor for substance and alcohol abuse and a harsher parenting style in adolescents. Areas for future research in this population include investigating the prevalence, psychosocial correlates, and outcomes of clinically diagnosed Major Depressive Disorder, developing and empirically validating psychotherapeutic treatments, and focusing upon other psychiatric diagnoses such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, and psychosis.

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