Maternal depression: seeking help sooner is better for mums and kids
Media Release: 15th June 2020
The children of mothers with long-term depression have been found to be at higher risk than others of behavioural problems and poor development.
They compared maternal depression before, during and after pregnancy, and found duration was more influential than timing.
“The longer a mother suffered maternal depression, the worse the outcomes for the child,” Dr Moss said.
“Mothers may worry that if they’ve been depressed during pregnancy then it’s too late to do anything about it, but reducing depressive symptoms at any stage is better for them and their children.”
“The earlier we can effectively detect and treat maternal depression, the better our chances of improving outcomes.”
Dr Moss suggested screening for depression could start when couples begin planning a pregnancy, and continue through the perinatal period and early childhood.
“Maternal depression is a significant challenge for women, families and communities, and we need to look after women better at key times in their lives,” she said.
The research on which this press release is based was conducted as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health by the University of Queensland and the University of Newcastle. We are grateful to the Australian Government Department of Health for funding and to the women who provided the survey data.