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'Happier moms have happier kids: Study

Treating mothers for depression could mean long-term happiness for their children.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2006 16:02 IST

Treating mothers for depression can mean long-term happiness for their children, according to a study published Tuesday.

Depression is known to be passed on genetically, but it can also be affected by the environment in which a child is raised, according to authors of an article published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) dated March 22.

A child can develop anxiety and psychological problems if a mother with depression goes without treatment, the authors said.

"Depressed parents should be treated vigorously," said the study's lead author, Myrna Weissman, of Columbia University and New York Psychiatric Institute.

"The impact is not only on them but it's also on their children."

Treating the mother could avoid the need to treat the child with anti-depressant drugs, the authors said.

The study shows that chidren of mothers suffering from depression and whose symptoms disappeared during the course of a four-month treatment had much lower chances of suffering from depression or other behavior problems.

"It's a very dramatic and important finding," wrote co-author John Rush, psychiatry professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

The study was conducted between December 2001 and April 2004 among 151 women and their children, aged seven to 17.

"Remission of maternal depression has a positive effect on both mothers and children, whereas mothers who remain depressed may increase the rates of their children's disorders.

"These findings support the importance of vigorous treatment for depressed mothers in primary care or psychiatric clinics and suggest the utility of evaluating the children, especially children whose mothers continue to be depressed," the study concluded.