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Half of Moms of Children With Autism Have Depression – Consumer Health News

THURSDAY, Sept. 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) — While half of moms of youngsters with autism endure signs of despair, a brand new examine has found that didn’t increase the danger of behavioral issues for his or her children.

It was each a shocking and heartening discovering, mentioned first examine creator Danielle Roubinov, an assistant professor within the division of psychiatry and behavioral sciences on the University of California, San Francisco.

“We didn’t see that maternal depressive symptoms predicted more children’s behavior problems over time, and that was pretty interesting to us, especially in families with a child with autism,” Roubinov famous.

“And the reason for that is because mothers — all parents, but mothers in particular — of children with autism can carry a lot of blame and guilt and stigma surrounding their child’s diagnosis,” she explained. “A lot of worries of ‘What did I do to cause this? What is my role in this?’ And so we really wanted to highlight here that, yes, maternal and child mental health are related to each other, but even in these high-stress family contexts, having a mom who is struggling with depression, that does not necessarily contribute to more behavior problems over time.”

Still, the rates of maternal depression were high: While 50% of moms of children with autism had elevated levels of depressive symptoms over an 18-month period, that figure was between 6% and 13% for moms whose children did not have autism.

The results highlight the need for thinking about parental mental health and well-being, even when it’s the child who is the patient being supported, Roubinov said.

“A lot of our treatments or interventions for children’s behavior problems are focused on the child or they’re focused on parenting, both of which are certainly really important. But separate from that, I think it suggests to health care professionals and other mental health professionals that we really need to be thinking about mental health at the level of the family. How are we supporting everyone in the family?” she mentioned.

Even in customary assessments, any historical past of psychological well being issues in a household is taken into account, Roubinov mentioned, however remedy doesn’t all the time observe.

“We need to be not only thinking about it as part of the assessment, but also thinking about it as part of the treatment plan,” she prompt.

To gauge depressive signs, the researchers used a measure referred to as the Inventory of Depressive Symptoms, which the moms accomplished themselves. Moms additionally reported on youngsters’s behaviors utilizing the Child’s Challenging Behavior Scale. The workforce labored with 86 mom-little one pairings, half of whom included youngsters with autism and half with neurotypical youngsters. About 75% of the children included within the examine have been elementary faculty age or youthful, although some have been as previous as 16.

The findings have been revealed Aug. 26 within the journal Family Process.

“It indicates that it’s something that we can use to reassure mothers, in essence, that having mental health issues is not worsening their kids’ behavior,” mentioned Dr. Ludmila De Faria. She is chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Women’s Mental Health and an affiliate professor of psychiatry on the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville. “It is definitely a positive thing.”

Though understanding that their psychological state isn’t essentially worsening their kid’s situation could also be a aid, it might not ease the despair, in response to De Faria, who was not concerned with the examine.

“Hormonal changes in women contribute to depression, for example,” De Faria mentioned. “There are genetic factors. Genetic predisposition might be a contributor factor. Adverse childhood events for the mothers when they were growing up, environmental factors like social determinants of health, living in poverty, having no access to health care, having no access to resources for their child, including respite care. All of that, which may fall under social determinants of health, may contribute to developing depression.”

But simply telling their major care physicians about their emotions could assist girls get referrals for remedy, she famous.

“From a women’s mental health perspective, I think it’s great that people are addressing this,” De Faria mentioned. “And I think it’s great that now research is coming in and is actually separating and looking at causality and in which direction things are, and actually showing mothers that if you have access to the appropriate support, then it doesn’t matter if you are depressed or if you have a diagnosis of depression or not, that is not necessarily the ultimate cause for your kids’ issues.”

More info

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has extra on depression.

SOURCES: Danielle Roubinov, PhD, assistant professor, division of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, University of California, San Francisco; Ludmila De Faria, MD, chair, American Psychiatric Association Committee on Women’s Mental Health, and affiliate professor, division of psychiatry, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville; Family Process, Aug. 26, 2022

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