Successful treatment of major depression in mothers also leads to improved mental health for their children, according to a new study.
Children of parents with major depression are at increased risk of being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders.
This study included 80 women with depression and their children ages seven to 17. The mothers were enrolled in a US National Institute of Mental Health trial designed to help patients with depression who didn't respond to the first, second or even third treatment attempts.
The researchers found that the children of women with early remission showed improvement in both mother- and child-reported symptoms of psychiatric disorders and in overall psychosocial functioning at home and at school. Children of mothers whose depression took longer to go into remission showed improvement in several of the symptom measurements, but not in functioning.
Why depressed moms need treatment
Children of mothers whose depression did not respond to treatment over two years showed no improvement in symptoms of psychiatric disorders and had an increase in outward-directed symptoms, such as disruptive behaviours.
The findings appear online in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
"This study shows that [depression] remission, even after several months of treatment, can have major positive effects not only for the patient but also for her children," researcher Myrna Weissman said.
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