Children whose mothers are depressed are themselves at increased risk for depression, anxiety disorder, or other mental-health problems during childhood. New research shows that treating the depression of mothers can significantly alleviate children’s depression.

There is a lot of evidence that if a mother suffers from clinical depression that her children are at increased risk for depression and other psychological problems. Now a study finds that if the mother’s depression can be successfully treated, that her child’s mental health is markedly improved too. The study is published in the current Journal of the American Medical Association.


Researcher Myrna Weissman from Columbia University says she’s always been interested in the impact on children of having a depressed parent. As an epidemiologist, she’s found that the rate of depression in these children increases three fold from ten percent to 30 percent, often beginning before puberty with consequences lasting for decades.

Dr. MYRNA WEISSMAN (Columbia University): A child who gets depressed when they’re 12 often doesn’t do well in school, may make bad marital and occupational choices, may have difficulty going to college. By the time they’re 40 they have many problems in functioning.

TRUDEAU: So Weissman wondered if the parent were successfully treated for depression, would that have an impact on the child’s mental health?

Dr. WEISSMAN: So we selected a group of women who had children between the ages of seven and 17 and we asked the question, does the remission of the maternal depression result in improvement in the child?

TRUDEAU: There were 151 mothers, average age 38, each mother struggling with the symptoms of major depression.

– Michelle Trudeau

Read more: Study Finds Link Between Mother, Child Depression

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