Mom's Treatment Helps Her Children, Too; Research Finds Depression Links

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 22, 2006 | Go to article overview

Mom's Treatment Helps Her Children, Too; Research Finds Depression Links


Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A happy mother is more likely to have happy children, according to University of Texas Southwestern researchers who urge depressed mothers to seek treatment - to help both themselves and their offspring.

"A mother's depression does affect her kids. When she gets treated and gets better, lo and behold, her kids improve, too," said Carroll W. Hughes, a professor of psychiatry and one of the 15 authors of the study, which was released yesterday by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers followed 151 mother-child pairs in 19 psychiatric centers nationwide, the first study of its kind to document the positive effects of a mother's mental recovery on her child.

A third of the children of mothers treated with medication over a three-month period recovered from their own psychiatric symptoms without any additional intervention or medications, a "dramatic" finding that could prompt the medical community to reconsider prescribing antidepressants to youngsters, the researchers said.

The recovery percentage for children of untreated mothers was 12 percent.

Mothers who remained depressed also increased the risk that their children would have a similar disorder. The study found that 17 percent of the children whose mothers went untreated developed psychiatric disturbances by the end of the three months.

"Our findings suggest that vigorous treatment of depressed mothers to achieve remission is associated with positive outcomes in their children as well, whereas failure to treat depressed mothers may increase the burden of illness in their children," the authors wrote. …

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