An Examination of the Correlation between Depression and Hopelessness Levels in Mothers of Disabled Children

By Ceylan, Remziye; Aral, Neriman | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, August 10, 2007 | Go to article overview

An Examination of the Correlation between Depression and Hopelessness Levels in Mothers of Disabled Children


Ceylan, Remziye, Aral, Neriman, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


This research was conducted to examine the correlation between depression and hopelessness levels in mothers of disabled children between the ages 5 and 7. A total of 126 mothers of children with disabilities was used in the study. They were obtained from the nursery schools of the First Education Schools of the Ministry of Education or from private schools. In this study the Beck Depression Scale (Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock, & Erbaugh, 1961), Beck Hopelessness Scale (Beck, Lester, & Trexler, 1974) and a General Information Form (Ceylan & Aral, 2005) were used for statistical analyses. The findings suggested a significant correlation between the depression and hopelessness levels of mothers of disabled children (p<.01).

Keywords: children with disabilities, depression, hopelessness, mothers of disabled children.

The birth of a child with a disability is known to negatively influence the lives, emotions and behaviors of family members. All of their expectations, hopes and plans, including work and financial arrangements, are predicated on the expectation of their child having normal characteristics. A study by Magana, Seltzer, and Krauss (2004) reported that mothers of children with an intellectual disability experienced more family problems and showed more depressive symptoms. These negative feelings arise from the fact that looking after a child with a disability is very difficult and that families are not prepared for this occurrence. In their study, Saloviita, Italinna, and Leinonen (2003) observed that mothers of children with disabilities were concerned about the child's behavioral problems while fathers were more concerned about other people's negative attitudes. Birth of a normal or abnormal child is viewed as the mother's personal success or failure, respectively. Thus, the mother is often blamed and belittled by society. These negative feelings cause the mothers of disabled children to suffer stress. In a number of studies about the stress levels of families with disabled children, these families were found to have very high stress and depression levels (Bebko, Konstantareas, & Springer, 1987; Beckman, 1983; Sipahi, 2002; Wilton & Renaut, 1986).

The relationship between stress and depression has been examined in several studies and in about 80% of cases, individuals experienced stress caused by a traumatic event immediately prior to the onset of depressive symptoms (the loss of a loved one, a major failure, or birth of a child with a disability) (Koroglu, 2004). Parenting stress (inability, role limiting, social isolation, relationship problems with spouse, and health problems) was found to be especially high for single mothers and for those with more than one disabled child (Beckman, 1983; Dellve, Samuelsson, Tallborn, Fasth, & Hallberg, 2006; Gottlieb, 1997). In other studies, emotional disorders such as unhappiness, negativity about the future, hopelessness and pessimism were found to be influential in depression (Seber, Dilbaz, Kaptanoglu, & Tekin, 1993).

Hopelessness, which has a role in the emergence of depression, can be defined as a lack of expectation in achieving a goal. It includes a judgment of failure or negative feelings about the future. In his study, Beck (1963) focused on hopelessness, which is generally regarded as an important reason for pessimism and a symptom of depression. He dealt with the concept of hopelessness in the area of cognitive theory and evaluated it as a person's negative expectations for the future. In a study done by Smith, Innocenti, Boyce, and Smith (1993) it was determined that parents of a child with a disability experienced more emotional difficulties and showed more symptoms of depression compared to parents without a disabled child. Today it is believed that mothers of disabled children may attribute false meanings to their experiences and may feel hopeless about the future. The difficulties and hardships they face in tackling the problems of their children may cause depression in these mothers. …

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