Depression-Stricken Mothers Can Still Thrive As Parents: Study

    Inam Ansari
    August10/ 2023
    Last Updated:

    Depression-Stricken Mothers

    Washington: Researchers investigated how external supports might counteract the harms that mother's depression poses to the health of a child.
    The conclusions of Dr Dow-Fleisner, which were published in the Journal of Family Issues, have significant ramifications for how social workers, clinical practitioners, families, and communities might be of assistance.
    Dr Dow-Fleisner wanted to concentrate on depression that happens later in children, as opposed to the postpartum period, which is when the risk of depression among mothers is highest. Her team compared the characteristics of depressed and non-depressed moms of nine-year-old children using information from a sizable longitudinal US research.
    In comparison to women who were not depressed, her findings showed that mothers with depression were more likely to experience parental stress and less likely to believe they were competent parents. Additionally, they admitted to using more harsh forms of discipline, such as depriving the kid of privileges or using aggressive methods like cursing or threatening them. They were less likely to participate in school activities like visiting open houses if they had a child. They were equally likely to participate in household tasks like helping with schoolwork, though. “Being a mother with depression carries increased risks for a child’s physical and psychological health,” said Dr. Sarah Dow-Fleisner, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work and Director of the Centre for the Study of Services to Children and Families at UBC Okanagan. “But it’s not fated to be, especially if mothers have external supports.”
    “Furthermore, mothers with depression reported fewer interpersonal supports and community resources than mothers without depression,” said Dr Dow-Fleisner. “This is consistent with previous research.” Interpersonal supports referred to both emotional and material help from others, such as a relative providing advice or emergency childcare.
    Community resources refer to safety and neighbourhood cohesion. Neighbourhood cohesion measures the willingness of neighbours to help and the shared values of the neighbourhood, among other social and trust factors.
    “Notably, those mothers with depression who reported higher levels of support and cohesion felt less stressed and more competent in their parenting,” said Dr. Dow-Fleisner. “These positive perceptions translated to less psychological aggression-based discipline and more home and school involvement with their children.” These findings fit with a resilience perspective, whereby mothers facing adversity like depression can still thrive as parents—especially when these protective factors are present.
    “We want to help moms both address their depression and improve the child’s health and wellbeing—this is known as a two-generation approach,” said Dr. Dow-Fleisner. “As mothers may not seek out help for their depression alone, a child health check-up in a primary care setting is a good opportunity to screen for maternal depression and provide support in identifying interpersonal supports and community resources.”
    Dr. Dow-Fleisner added that capacity building should take precedence over just solving acute parenting issues in supporting programmes. A community-based parenting support group, for instance, might assist a woman in creating a network of individuals who could offer financial and emotional assistance when necessary. One such community-based organisation is Mamas for Mamas, according to Dr. Dow-Fleisner. Mamas for Mamas, which has locations in Kelowna and Vancouver, fosters a sense of community and offers moms and other carers material and other forms of help.
    “Further funding of programs that empower mothers—including those experiencing mental health concerns—would go a long way in improving the health and wellbeing of children, mothers and families,” said Dr. Dow-Fleisner. —ANI