Depression experienced in low-income women within their child-bearing years is relatively common. Approximately 20% of mothers surveyed with children that are 12 months or older actually continue to experience moderate or even severe depression symptoms which is proven in the results of a recent study that was just presented at a 2010 Annual Meeting for the Pediatric Academic Societies.
This study has reinforced the previous notion and results of other studies that declare that depression in mothers may extend past the postpartum time period. In fact, as children get older, there is even a higher occurrence of depression among mothers according to associate professor, Carol Weitzman of Yale University School of Medicine.
Such findings are extremely important, as they make it essential that clinicians be aware of the possibility and probability of depression among mothers to exist beyond the postpartum time frame which previously was the only time given attention to during motherhood. This particular study also added important information to the general knowledge base in terms of the depressive symptoms experienced by mothers and their severity, specifically involving those mothers who are considered low-income.
During the study, Dr. Carol Weitzman and her colleagues determined that a child’s scheduled check-ups would be an opportune time for targeting or identifying mothers suffering from depression. It may be necessary to identify depressed mothers because women are less likely to actually go out and seek treatment for their depression.
In this study, 845 mothers visited a Yale clinic for disadvantaged children. Each mother provided her demographic information along with completing a depression inventory called the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomology-Self Report. This questionnaire consisted of 16 items to measure the severity of depression, if depression was in fact present. The mothers that were discovered to have had depression based on this screening were then interviewed in order to confirm specific depressive symptoms.
Out of all 845 mothers, about 44% had symptoms of depression, which equals out to be 372 women. According to the questionnaire results, 25% of these mothers experienced mild symptoms, 13% experienced moderate symptoms and 6% experienced severe depressive symptoms.
Of the mothers who experienced moderate depressive symptoms, 23% had a child over the age of 5 and 24% were unemployed. Other factors such as age, marital status, ethnicity, and education did not seem to affect the prevalence of moderate symptoms.
Out of the 372 mothers that showed signs of depression, 71 were randomly selected for available cognitive-behavior therapy sessions or were able to accept a referral to a social worker. These women were shown to have significantly improved after receiving some type of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Those who have researched this issue are in agreement that maternal depression needs to be considered a serious issue of public health which affects an enormous number of women. According to Dr. Weitzman, we need to get a handle on maternal depression so these women are better able to provide for their children and will not hold their children back from reaching their potential due to dealing with a chronic mental illness.
With this information and proof that low-income mothers with young children are suffering from depression, a plan needs to be set in place to help these women by understanding their needs and directing them to the best treatment for them. There is no denying that if this problem does not get addressed, children are going to start struggling because of their parent’s mental state. Parents need to be mentally healthy and stable in order to care for children who will in turn end up mentally healthy and stable.
Pediatric Academic Societies. 2010. Annual Meeting.
Hoyle, B. 2010. Postpartum Depression Could Become Chronic Depression in Low-Income Mothers. www.medscape.com