11-21 Parental Depression- Part 1: Maternal depression and its effect on child development

Posted in abuse, Depression, Mental Health, Parenting, Stress

Parental Depression- Part 1: Maternal depression and its effect on child development

For decades now, the relationship between pre- and post-maternal depression and its effect on child development has been the topic of extensive studies. Maternal depression during childbirth, or antepartum depression, is a major glitch affecting the physical and psychological state of the child during later years of his or her life. Pregnancy is filled with dreams, hopes and happiness. It is supposed to be one of the happiest periods in a women’s life. But for some, it appears to be a struggling one filled with anxiety, depression and stress.

Depression, being one of the striking mental health issues, is quite common among expecting mothers. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the developing countries, about 15.6 percent women during pregnancy and 19.8 percent women after childbirth experience severe depression. It has been found that children of depressed mothers are at an increased risk of perennial mental and physical health issues.

Causes of depression during pregnancy

Sleepless nights or fatigue are some of the most common symptoms of pregnancy. But feeling blue for no valid reasons, loss of interest in daily activities, feeling of hopelessness and emptiness, lack of concentration, getting annoyed and irritated all the time, feeling that life is not worth living, etc., are some of the major symptoms of depression that women might experience during pregnancy.

Depression can take anyone into its grip, regardless of age, gender, financial status, and various other factors. But women are three times more prone to it, especially those who experience extreme violence or stress, poverty, migration, etc. Although the cause of depression during pregnancy can be directed to hormonal imbalance, there are various other factors that can be responsible for such a condition. Some of these factors include:

  • family history of depression
  • past history of mental issue
  • emotional abuse and domestic violence
  • unplanned pregnancy
  • lack of support from family
  • stressful life events
  • marital abuse

Effects of mother’s mental health on the child

Maternal depression during childbirth has been directly proportional to the child’s physical and psychological health. Depression, if not treated, can lead to complications such as problems in mother-infant attachment, breastfeeding and infant care. Babies who are born to mothers suffering from severe depression are likely to have abnormal amygdala, intellectual competence, low participation in social activities, etc., as compared to babies born to mothers without depression.

How safe are medications during pregnancy?

There has been a lot of storm regarding the safety and side-effects of anti-depressant medications during pregnancy. Certain research shows that there were considerable after effects on the newborns due to intake of antidepressant medication during pregnancy. Babies were associated with constitutional health disorder like heart disease, physical deformity, low birth weight, etc. Whatsoever, it is always smart to ask a health care professional about the best medication and treatments for you and your baby.

Leading a depression-free life

Depression is a common mental disorder that many women encounter during pregnancy.  If you feel you are struggling with depression, seek help immediately. Talk to your family or friends what concerns you. Open up to your partner about your blues. You can also contact the Depression Treatment Centers of California to get access to the best depression clinics in California. You can call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-678-0400 or chat online to know about the best depression centers in California.


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