Married and single mothers suffer higher rates of depression when they live with parents in their baby's first year of life.

"There is a strong expectation that married couples would be economically self-sufficient. Those are strong cultural values. So there could be a stronger sense of failure among married couples if they have to live with their parents," said lead author Joy Piontak a research analyst with Duke University centre for child and family policy.

The pattern held true for rich, poor and middle-class women, said the study that looked at a sample of nearly 3,000 married, single and cohabiting mothers. We often talk about families in terms of mothers, fathers and children.

"Or we talk about the marital status of the mothers. Families are often a lot more complex than we imagine them to be, though. And that complexity can affect mothers' well-being," Piontak added.

For instance, married couples commonly expect to maintain a separate household. Cohabiting couples do not always face the same expectations as other researchers have noted.

Still, Piontak cautioned that she cannot say for certain what causal relationship is at play. Living with grandparents may worsen depression for single and married mothers. Or, depressed single and married moms may be less likely to move out from a multi-generational household, the study said.


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