Sometimes the very best way that mothers can help their children is by helping themselves. Fascinating study just published in the American Journal of Psychiatry by renowned psychologist Myrna Weissman adds to an extensive literature showing that maternal depression affects children in negative ways and that treating maternal depression can have profound benefits for the kids.
In this article a number of active treatments were compared: bupropion, escitalopram, and a combination of the two.
Whereas all three treatments resulted in improvements in depression symptoms, treatment with escitalopram resulted in the greatest improvement in anxiety and irritability and subjective well-being of the mothers.
And mirroring these changes, there were major improvements in the children’s functioning and their ratings of their ability to talk to their mother, as well as a reduction in symptoms of depression.
In these improvements in the children’s assessment of the quality of their relationship with their mother precisely mirrored the improvements in the mother’s sense of being able to listen to their children.
My take him lesson from this article is that it is essential that mothers take care of their own subjective anxiety and irritability in order to best help their children.