Depressed mothers lack physiological attachment with kids: Study

Depressed mothers lack physiological attachment with kids: Study

It is necessary to understand maternal depression not because it affects millions of mothers worldwide, but it also impacts the well-being and quality of lives associated with them. Millions of mothers worldwide are affected by depression, which may not be limited to periods before or after gestation, but can persist even after the child birth.

A recent study by the Binghamton University highlighted the negative consequences of depression in mothers, saying that depressed mothers are not in synchrony with their children.

“When people are interacting, sometimes you just feel like you’re in sync with somebody, and you know the interaction is going really well and you’re enjoying the conversation. We’re trying to figure out, at the body level, in terms of your physiology, do you see this synchrony in moms and their kids, and then how is that impacted by depression,” asked Brandon Gibb, one of the co-authors of the study and a professor of psychology at Binghamton University and director of the Mood Disorders Institute and Center for Affective Science.

Prolonged depression in women may go to next generation

In the study, titled “Synchrony of physiological activity during mother–child interaction: moderation by maternal history of major depressive disorder,” the scientists observed children aged 7-11 years, along with their mothers, with 44 of them suffering from depression and the remaining 50 showing no signs of the disorder. During the study, published online in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in April 2016, the researchers measured variations in the heart rate when the pairs were engaged in both positive and negative discussions.

As part of the positive discussion, the mother-child pairs were busy planning a dream vacation, while the negative discussion hovered around topics like homework, problems at school, use of TV or computer, etc. It was observed that during negative interaction with their kids, mothers who did not have depression were in sync with their children, displaying similar changes in their heart rate variability, while depressed mothers were deprived of physiological synchrony as their children.

The study gives insights into the impacts of maternal depression, showing that a history of depression in mothers can cause severe physiological disruptions during mother-child interactions. Also, prolonged depression in women may be carried to the next generation.

Stressing on the findings, lead author of the study Mary Woody said, “We found that mothers who had no history of depression were really matching their children’s physiology in the moment. We saw most moment-to-moment matching in the conflict discussion, in which they were talking about something negative going on in their life. In this difficult discussion, we’re seeing this protective physiological mechanism coming out. Whereas, with mothers with a history of depression and their kids, we’re seeing the opposite. As one person is getting more engaged, the other person is pulling away. So they were really missing each other and walking away from the discussion feeling sad.”

Road to recovery

It might take some time to recover from dementia, but scientists are constantly on the lookout for an innovative treatment that can check the development and increasing prevalence of the disorder. The first step to treatment of depression, or any other mental disorder, is accepting the problem.

If you or your loved one is struggling with depression or any other mental illness, it’s time to act. Depression can be cured if a timely treatment is made available. You may get in touch with the Texas Depression Treatment Helpline to know about various depression treatment centers in Texas. Chat online with one of our experts or call at the 24/7 helpline number 866-827-0282 for further information about depression treatment clinics in Texas or other areas.