Link between maternal depression and child development

A woman can experience emotional upheavals before, during and after her pregnancy. Commonly called maternal depression, it is very likely to affect a child’s development.

Health Shots contacted Dr Tasneem Shah, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynecologist, Manipal Hospital, Whitefield, Bengaluru, and Clinical Psychologist Dr Kamna Chhibber, to understand the link between maternal depression and child development.

Maternal depression and self-care

“For women from all walks of life, becoming a mother is a remarkable event. However, pregnancy can also bring a number of emotional challenges. Additionally, a pregnant woman experiences persistent bouts of sadness, mood swings, and sobbing spells that are the result of maternal depression. This is commonly referred to as anti-partum depression, and such women are more vulnerable and prone to mood swings or postpartum depression after childbirth,” says Dr Shah.

Maternal depression can affect the development of the mother’s child. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

According to the expert, about 2 percent of pregnant women who consult the OPD have depressive thoughts during their pregnancy and may need professional care and therapy.

At the same time, during this period, family members and relatives must take responsibility, as it plays a central role, to maintain the mental well-being of these women. Additionally, women tend to marginalize their self-care and mental health due to many factors such as:

• Unconscious
• Lack of time
• Too much workload
• Lack of support

These factors need to be ruled out, as prioritizing mental health results in overall well-being for women during their recovery period, adds the expert.

READ ALSO: Study suggests a mother’s depression can affect her relationship with her baby

How can poor mental health during motherhood affect parenthood?

Maternal depression is known to cause developmental problems in young children, such as decreased cognitive, social, and academic functioning in children. Children whose mothers have a history of depression are at least two or three times more likely to suffer from mood disorders and adjustment problems.

Signs of postpartum depression
Beware of signs of postpartum depression in new mothers. Image provided by: Shutterstock

Even when they are toddlers or toddlers, children of depressed mothers create more fuss, are less sensitive to facial and vocal expressions, are more inactive, and have higher stress hormones than infants of unhealthy mothers. depressed.

“A parent’s state of well-being can have an impact on the child. This can influence the way care is provided and the parent’s availability. This can affect the child’s attachment, the sense of trust and security that he develops or maintains depending on his age. If a child understands what is happening and other adults provide support and care, the effect can be modulated. A parent who is not feeling well can make their child worry and anxious, as they may feel out of control and unsure of what is going on and how they can help or support them,” says Dr Chhibber .

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