It is a sober statistic–one in eight women can expect to develop depression at some point in her life. One of those risk times is during the childbearing years. And when mom is depressed, it impacts the kids. In fact, when a child has a depressed mother, he or she is three times more likely to develop depression too.
Children who have depressed moms are sad, anxious, irritable and more disruptive than kids with moms who are not depressed. They may feel responsible for their parents’ moods and have difficulty regulating their own emotions.
We also know that when a mom is depressed during her child’s first year of life, the baby is vulnerable because of the unresponsiveness or withdrawal of mom. Studies show that the baby senses the lower engagement and looks at mom less often (Pediatrics).
But here is the good news. When mom gets treatment for depression, her children get progressively better too. The faster she responds, the faster the kids responds. So early treatment is key! Depression is very treatable and needs to be addressed as soon as possible to help mom, but also her children.
So many people with depression choose not to get treatment. Obviously, this is not a good choice. And moms are not the only ones who impact their kids where depression is concerned. Depressed dads are less likely to read to their kids and four times more likely to spank their kids.
So moms and dads, if you are struggling with depression get immediate help. Your action may prevent depression in your children.