Depression in one parent, usually the mother, can change the dynamics of the whole family because it affects not only the parent but also the children. That's why it's important to notice the signs and deal with the problem, finding the best ways to get help and get better. Children are at risk if their mothers are depressed. For example, children whose parents are depressed are two to four times more likely to be depressed themselves before they turn 18. The mother's condition can make it harder for them to grow up socially, emotionally, and mentally. But there is good news: most of the damage that can be done by maternal depression can be fixed if the mom gets professional help.

What the signs of a depressed parent are and why they are often ignored

When a mother has postpartum depression, she might feel like she doesn't love her baby enough or that she can't connect with her child. A depressed mom will feel sad and tired all the time, much more than the tiredness most parents feel. She may not be able to get up and do even the simplest things or feel happy.

Some other signs a mom might have been:

  • She lost interest in normal things, even things she did with her child.
  • A lot of crying, feeling hopeless
  • Getting upset and angry
  • lack of energy and trouble sleeping
  • Changes in hunger or weight
  • It's hard for them to make decisions, focus, and remember things.
  • Thoughts of suicide or even tries

This kind of depression can go untreated because the family may be focused on the children instead of the parent. Even if a mom knows she is depressed, she may put herself last and focus on taking care of her kids. Depression, on the other hand, won't go away by itself. It needs to be treated, and this is especially true when families are involved.

How does depression in a parent affect their children?

At different stages of development, children need different things from their parents. Sometimes they need reassurance and affection, and other times they need limits and patience. Here's what happens by age.


Up to 20% of all new mothers are depressed after giving birth (PPD). When a mother has this kind of depression, she can't connect with her baby. That means they are less likely to talk to, play with, and show affection for their baby, all of which would strengthen their bond. One study found that moms with postpartum depression are less likely to talk to their babies or stick to routines, and they are more likely to stop breastfeeding their babies sooner.

Babies can tell, and this makes them nervous, so they cry more or act distant. Researchers have found that babies whose moms have postpartum depression gain weight more slowly than babies whose moms don't have depression. This means that the babies' overall health is affected.

Besides the symptoms of depression, a mother with postpartum depression may also:

  • Fear that she is not a good mom
  • Pull away from her husband, her family, and her friends.
  • Have a hard time getting close to the baby. Think about hurting herself or the baby.
what impact does depression have on children

Young children need a lot of energy because they learn by playing and interacting with their parents in other ways. When a mom is depressed, she may not have the energy to keep up with her child and find it easy to get angry with her. When a mother is depressed, she is less likely to play make-believe with her child, which helps keep the child from getting into trouble.  The child may also have trouble with language, which could make them less ready for school.

School-aged kids

Children whose mothers have depression may grow up faster than other kids, but that doesn't mean they aren't hurt by their mother's illnesses. They might think less of themselves and fall behind in school and in social life. One long-term study found that children whose mothers had chronic, severe depression were most likely to have suicidal thoughts at age 16. In fact, they were more than twice as likely to think about killing themselves as children in the study whose mothers had few signs of depression.

How do I protect my kids?

Asking the question is the first important step, and the answer is always to get help from a professional. Sometimes medication is part of the solution, sometimes therapy is, and most of the time it's a mix of both. It's also helpful to ask your spouse, other family members, and other adults who see your kids often to be involved and helpful while the mom gets professional help. Also, if the kids are old enough, they need to know that their mom's depression is not because of anything they did, but because of a medical condition that will be treated. In addition to making the child feel better, this opens the door for an honest conversation in which the child can talk about their worries and ask questions. women's depression treatment centre like Abhasa rehabilitation and wellness retreat can help.

Prepared by: Ms.Nivedha L Narayanan, Centre Head at Abhasa Rehabilitation and Wellness Home
LinkedIn Id: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nivedha-l-narayanan-1781b6120/