World Maternal Mental Health Day: Can maternal depression affect the child’s development?

World Maternal Mental Health Day: Can maternal depression affect the child’s development?

“A mother’s love begins before the child is born, and lasts through time…” – Anonymous

The strong bond between a mother and her child is established long before the child is born. A mother’s health, whether emotional, physical or mental, is the strongest factor that affects the child’s behavioral as well as overall development. Therefore, it is vital for a mother to stay fit physically and mentally to ensure the sound development of her child.

Maternal depression is one of major risk factors in the child’s healthy socio-emotional and cognitive development. It is a widespread public health issue that takes a toll on the health and well-being of mothers, their child as well as their families. According to the World Health Organization, worldwide, 10 percent expectant mothers, and 13 percent new mothers suffer from depression. This number is even higher in developing countries where almost 16 percent expectant mothers and around 20 percent new mothers experience depression.

Therefore, to spread awareness about the importance of maternal mental health, and reducing the associated stigmas, World Maternal Mental Health Day is being observed on May 3, 2017. The aim of the event is to draw attention towards the mental health concerns of mothers and their families, as both expectant and new mothers are highly vulnerable to developing some or the other form of mental illness, which, in turn, can be risky for the healthy development of her fetus or child.

Understanding maternal depression

While any woman can develop maternal depression, a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), suggests that the risk is much higher in white and native Americans, mothers with low levels of education, unemployment and income, and unmarried mothers.

Maternal depression can take a toll on any woman’s well-being, attitude and outlook towards life. From making her feel sad and hopeless to making her lose the motivation for parenting, it can lead a woman to a state of confusion, guilt and self-doubt.

Some of the common symptoms of maternal depression are:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Profound sadness
  • Frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from loved ones
  • Social isolation
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Loss of motivation
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Constant fatigue
  • Lack of interest in oneself

Effect of maternal depression on children

Maternal depression majorly impacts a woman’s ability to raise her child. While it can upset the mother-child bond, it can also make it difficult for the infant to find a nurturing and empathetic environment to grow in.

A depressed mother is very likely to indulge in unhealthy child-rearing activities such as:

  • Breastfeeding for shorter periods of time
  • Not engaging in age-appropriate safety practices, such as using car seats or covers for electrical sockets
  • Avoiding preventive health advice for managing her child’s chronic health conditions or disabilities
  • Not offering the required nutritious meal to the infant

At times, the effects on the infant can be so severe that they could persist even in adulthood. As grown-ups, they might face problems in learning, forming friendships and getting along with peers. They might even show significant behavioral, attention or anxiety problems and are also at an increased risk of developing depression.

Spread awareness

There is a lack of awareness about maternal depression, which acts as a hurdle for families to recognize its symptoms in mothers. Being unaware of any such mental illness leaves it undiagnosed, and thus, leads to the development of major health issues.

At times, the stigma related to the condition also acts as a barrier to receiving treatment. Therefore, it is important to break free from all such stigmas and ensure treatment is available to all in need.

Sovereign Health is one of the best depression treatment centers in California. If you know someone who is affected by depression, call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 for more information about our treatment facility. You can even chat online with our representatives to know more about the state-of-the-art inpatient mental health treatment centers in California and other parts of the United States.

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