Correlation Between Mom’s Mental Health and Baby’s Mental Health

Ooooohhhh…I’m so excited!  Another accurate piece about PPD in the Wall Street Journal…just a day after Michelle Gerdes’ “When Mama Ain’t Happy.”  This article is titled “Helping Kids Beat Depression….by Treating Mom” by Melinda Beck. 

I just love this article.  It’s filled with research findings,  including a recent one performed by the American Journal of Psychiatry in March that shows a direct correlation between the mental health of the mom with the mental health of her child(ren).   The article also references Myrna Weissman, epidemiologist at Columbia who has extensively studied depression in families, as well as Tracy Thompson, author of “The Ghost in the House: Motherhood, Raising Children and Struggling with Depression” who herself is a PPD survivor, and Beth Vesel, the literary agent for “The Ghost in the House.”   I’ve mentioned in prior posts that I’ve read this very intelligently-written book, which is loaded with research findings and scientific facts.

The article touches on the environment versus heredity aspects of depression, and mentions just how crucial those first weeks, months and even the first year postpartum are–when the baby’s brain is undergoing rapid development cognitively and socially–with respect to the quality of interaction between the mom and baby and subsequent impact on the baby’s development.   

Per the co-author of this study, Madhukar Trivedi from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, unfortunately only about half of depressed moms actually seek treatment….a sign of just how far we still need to go with respect to public awareness and stigma busting.  

But with more and more states passing laws to increase public awareness on maternal mental health–with Oregon the latest per my last blog post–there is more hope now than ever before that those whom moms entrust with their care (i.e., OB/GYNs) are more educated and proactively trying to detect PPD among new moms…..and those who care for babies (i.e., pediatricians) are proactively doing so as well because they realize that the baby’s health is dependent on the mom’s.

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