Perceptions of Predisposing and Protective Factors for Perinatal Depression in Same-Sex Parents

Authors

  • Lori E. Ross PhD,

    Corresponding author
      Lori E. Ross, PhD, Women's Mental Health & Addiction Research Section, Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, 250 College Street, Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R8 Canada. E-mail: l.ross@utoronto.ca
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    • Lori E. Ross, PhD, is a Research Scientist in the Women's Mental Health & Addiction Research Section of the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, Toronto. She is also Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, and in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.

  • Leah Steele MD, PhD,

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    • Leah Steele, MD, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Health Systems Research and Consulting Unit of the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, Toronto. She is also a family physician and research scholar in the Department of Family & Community Medicine, St. Mchael's Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario.

  • Beth Sapiro BSc

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    • Beth Sapiro, BSc, is a Master's candidate at the Ehrenkranz School of Social Work at New York University.


Lori E. Ross, PhD, Women's Mental Health & Addiction Research Section, Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, 250 College Street, Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R8 Canada. E-mail: l.ross@utoronto.ca

Abstract

Increasing numbers of women are choosing to have children in the context of same-sex relationships or as “out” lesbian or bisexual individuals. This study used qualitative methods to assess perceived predisposing and protective factors for perinatal depression in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) women. Two focus groups with LGBQ women were conducted: 1) biological parents of young children and 2) nonbiological parents of young children or whose partners were currently pregnant. Three major themes emerged. Issues related to social support were primary, particularly related to disappointment with the lack of support provided by members of the family of origin. Participants also described issues related to the couple relationship, such as challenges in negotiating parenting roles. Finally, legal and policy barriers (e.g., second parent adoption) were identified as a significant source of stress during the transition to parenthood. Both lack of social support and relationship problems have previously been identified as risk factors for perinatal depression in heterosexual women, and legal and policy barriers may represent a unique risk factor for this population. Therefore, additional study of perinatal mental health among LGBQ women is warranted.

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