Postpartum Depression May Have Life-Long Impact on Mother-Child Relationships

We all know how serious postpartum depression can be for new moms. As many as 1 in 7 mom suffer from the severe clinical depression or anxiety known as PPD. It can affect every aspect of a new mother’s life. In the most serious cases, it’s led to tragedy for moms and children affected by the condition. And now, a new study suggests that PPD may in fact have a life-long impact on relationships between mothers and their kids.

When you suffer from postpartum depression, bonding with your newborn can be almost impossible. But it doesn’t end there.

According to a study published in Science Daily, PPD can affect relationships into later life, and even impact multi-generational relationships. Dr. Sarah Meyers and Dr. Sarah Johns of the School of Anthropology and Conservation at the University of Kent led the research study. They collected data from 305 women, mainly in the UK and US. The average age of the women was 60 years old, and the average number of children they had was 2.2 between the ages of 8 – 48. The average age of the children was 29, and many of them had their own children, as well.

The data showed that women who reported to have suffered from PPD also reported lower relationship quality with their kids. Furthermore, the worse the PPD, the worse the later relationship quality was.

Moms who reported depressive symptoms or episodes during other periods of their life also had poorer quality relationships. However, PPD was found to be particularly damaging to the relationships the women had with the children who triggered their PPD. The data shows that the impact on the relationship in early infancy can have life-long affects on that relationship over time.

Additionally, the researchers found that when women suffer from PPD with a child, then later in life become a grandmother via that child, the women tend to be less emotionally close with their grandchild.

Postpartum depression is a very serious condition, but there is help out there. If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms that are more than just the “baby blues”, please reach out. To your doctor, a friend, your partner, anyone. You are not alone, YOU are not the problem, and with the right support and treatment, you can get through this.

(Image: iStock / KatarzynaBialasiewicz)

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