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Treating Mother’s Depression Helps Protect Their Children

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. was Director of Mental Help Net from 1999 to 2011. Dr. Dombeck received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1995 ...Read More

Here are some interesting relationships that cast light on depression vulnerability. The second phase (of four) of the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH)’s STAR*D (Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression) study is out. One of the major conclusions is that there is a measurable relationship between young children’s succeptability to depression and similar mental health problems, and their mother’s depression status. It appears that if a mother’s depression can be alleviated quickly through the use of aggressive anti-depression treatment (medications in the case of this study), the children’s risk of developing depression decreases significantly. Not that it is terribly big news to guess that a mother’s health is critical to her developing children’s health, but nevertheless, here is is in direct observations. Properly treating mothers will apparently result in better overall health for children too, suggesting that there will be a good public health “bang-for-the-buck” to providing treatment for mothers who cannot otherwise afford it. Public health policy is complex, and made even more so because of scarce resources and politics. We can only hope that perhaps this sort of knowledge will help the folks who draft such policies to better focus their energies.

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