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Parental Depression and Childhood Development
Wonyean Gaye
Excelsior College

Parental Depression and Childhood Development

Abstract

Parental depression negatively affect parents and is associated with poor health and cognitive
developmental of children of all ages. Women are most likely to be depressed than men with 810 % of women experiencing mild to severe feelings of sadness, distress, withdrawal that may
continue to months if not years (Berk 2014,P 186). Depressed mothers will have poor parenting
skills and will behave in a negative manner to their children. The initial caused of parental
depression is usually unknown but it sometimes begins with family life after child birth,
dissatisfaction in marriage, limited social support, poverty especially in SES with low social
class, low maternal education, job related stressor and divorce. All of the above factors have
significant negative impact on the growth and development of children of all ages and will
portray negative energy such as aggressiveness, disruptive behavior and sometimes antisocial
behavior. In order to help both parents with depressions and prevents the effects of depression
from parents to kids, there should be a collective efforts of health care provider, family members
and communities. The health care provider should be able to detect parental depression as early
as possible and prompt actions such as counseling and medical needs be addressed. With
children who do not have that closed bond with either or both parents, closed family members
such as grandparents, aunts, uncles or teacher can help the child promote resilience with
depressed parents ( Masten and Reed 20002).

Causes of Parental Depression

Parental Depression and Childhood Development

The initial cause of parental depression in both mother and father is unknown. However, parental
depressions have been attributed to family life after child birth, divorce, dissatisfaction in
marriage, job related stress, hormonal changes etc. It is mostly seen in women than men with the
changes in hormone with elevated cortisol stress hormone after child birth (Field,1998). Usually
the father will do most of the house work after the birth of a child. Most often either of or both
parents will get 6 weeks of maternity leave which is not enough with the extra work load in
caring for the new born baby. As such, the stress level of both parents increase with the mother
being worse than the father. The increased stress level has been linked to increased anxiety in the
mother, depression with a sense of role overload that is, choosing between work and family tasks
and negative interactions with the baby. Moreover, with parent going through divorce, proper
care and attention will not be place on the child and as such, greatly affects his or her
development. Parents how stress with job related issues is and is not satisfy with his her marriage
probably due to financial issues will pay less attention to the wellbeing of the child. It is also
glaring that children born of SES are more prone to the effects of parental depression compare to
their counterpart. Reason being SES parents are of low income jobs, live in poorer community
without good community services (daycare centers) with the lack of good health insurance that
will help alleviate some of the stress on both parents.

Effects of Parental Depression in Parents

Parental depression affects both men and women in different ways depending on single
parenthood or two parenthood. Single parents are most likely to be depressed than two parent

Parental Depression and Childhood Development
family. According to analyses of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) in 2013, 11
percent of single parents show signs and symptoms of depression compare five percent of
depressed two parent family. Mothers are mostly affected than signs and symptoms than men.
Women are mostly affected due to hormonal changes in their body after child birth as seen in
postpartum depression. At the initial onset of maternal depression, most mothers with depression
will keep silence in fear of being label as crazy or weak. Some may focus on the wellbeing of
their family and usually forget to look after themselves. Maternal depression usually manifest
itself in child bearing women usually after the first month of child birth. It usually starts with
confusion, mood swing, anxiety, loss of appetite fatigue and progress to excessive guilt and
suicidal thought. Moreover, as depression persist, mother turn to pay less attention and
responsiveness to the need and safety of their children. Some will endanger the safety of their
children by refusing or forgetting to use car seat or cover hot stove from the present of children.
Furthermore, depressed mother will their child negatively and use hostile behavior and
inconsistent discipline such as corporal punishment and force (Format et al .,2007).The use of
force and corporal form of punishment will lead to mood change, withdrawal, aggressive and
impulsive behavior that will greatly affect the cognitive development of the child.
According to (Madsen & Juhl,2007), parental depression is less recognized in men than
women. In addition, about 3-5 percent of fathers report signs and symptoms of depression after
child birth compare to their female counter part at 10 percent. Paternal depression are usually due
to increased work load after the birth of the child. After the birth of their new born, most of the
caring in the first few days to weeks is done by the father. With the birth of the new born means
increased extra activities which can sometimes be overwhelming for the father. Father may less
likely engaged with the wellbeing of the child. The father will react to the increase stress by

Parental Depression and Childhood Development
showing aggregation in parenting. Moreover, even with the six weeks of maternal or paternal
leave that most employer give to their employee is not enough to help with the increase work
load. Paternal depression like maternal depression, usually affect child behavior especially boys
who will presents with defiance, aggression and over activity (Ramchadani et al., 2008).
Children with both parents going through depression will show worst outcome of cognitive
development compare to child who one of the parent is affected. Moreover, Non-depressed dad
will positively get involved in parenting and will help moderate the risk of developing problem
behavior in the child.
Effects of Parental Depression on Child Development

Children of all ages are affected by the effects of parental depression. Children of depressed
parents are most likely to have behavioral issues, academic difficulties and health problems.
Maternal depression have been linked to have delay in the cognitive development of children
with long term severe maternal depression being shown as an adverse consequences on child
behavior. Few weeks after birth, those infants born of depressed mother will sleep poorly. They
will less attentive to their surrounding and have elevated level of stress induced hormones ( Field
1998). As cognitive development is greatly influenced and improved when children explore their
environment, less or reduced attentiveness to their surrounding will greatly affect their cognitive
development. Moreover, the more extreme level of depression and increased stressor in both
parents especially the mother, the more difficult child-parent relationships will be. Among SES
family, children of depressed mother are most likely to have low average in test compare to their
age mates (ChildTrend.org 16). Boys are sensitive to the effects of parental depression than girls,
in facts according to ( Sharp et al 23), only boys showed decrease on standardized tests.

Parental Depression and Childhood Development
Furthermore, children of depressed parents are at a high risk of developing anxiety and conduct
disorder. Studies by (Lessene el al 35) shows that there is strong link between ADHD in children
and maternal mental health. Adolescence with depressed parents will most often suffer from
psychosocial maladjustment. They will experience higher rate of affective disorder than
adolescent of Non affective psychiatric control parents. Children of depressed parents will inherit
a tendency of emotional and behavior problems but quality parenting is a major factor in their
adjustment.

Management of Parental Depression

The management of parental depression is aim at preventing the effects of depression from
affecting cognitive development in children. Early detection and prompt treatment is paramount.
This should pharmacotherapy, social supports as well as family supports with the help of federal
government.
The health care provider should balance the wellbeing of the mother with the wellbeing and
safety of the child when considering initiating antidepressants. All medication, alcohol, tobacco
or herb use by depressed mother should be properly documented and discontinue to prevent or
reduce infant exposure. Moreover, depressed mother who wants to breast feed their child should
be educated about the importance of breast feeding ad breast feeding will create the mother –
child bonding.
Social supports and other therapy should be initiated to help depressed parent. Social support
and home visiting have been very important in improving the mother’s moods and attention as
well as their new born. Furthermore, the social intervention will help alter the mother state of

Parental Depression and Childhood Development
mood state there by reducing the negative perception about her baby. This will also help improve
mother-infant interactions. The availability of community resources such as good school,
libraries, convenient and affordable health care and social services with recreation centers can
help reduce some of the stress on the parent. For example, the availability of a good and
convenient Day care center where parent can take their child while they go to work.
Family centered intervention should be aim at focusing on educating parents and older kids
about depression with the hope of developing resiliency that will be beneficial to all parties..
Educating parents about the primitive definition of parental depression, how does depression
manifest itself in parents and children with explanation of probable causes of parental depression
and how parental depression can negatively impact the growth and development of children will
help improve the level of communication from parents to children and better understand the
child’s parent affective illness. In addition, family is one of the most consistent asset of resilient
children. Children will develop more attractive bond as a result of parental warmth and attention
(Gulolta 2008). With those who do not have that closed relationship with either of their
depressed parents, a grandparent, aunty, uncle or even a closed school teacher can help promote
resilience( Masten & Reed 2002) Warm relationship with closed relative such as grandparents,
aunt or teacher can help safeguard children’s development (Mezulis, Hyde, & Clark 2004).
Lastly, according to ChildTrends.org, it is National goal initiative by the Federal government of
the United States through it Healthy People 2020 initiatives to decrease the percentage of adult
who experience a major depressive episode from 6.8 percent in 2008 to 6.1 in 2008 to 6 percent
in 2020. Moreover, there will be an increased in the percentage of adult who receive medical
treatments from 68.3 percent in 2008 to 75.1% in 2020. Furthermore depression screening will
be done by every health care provider.

Parental Depression and Childhood Development

Conclusion
Parental depression occurs in both men and women with the later mostly being affected.
Single SES parent family are at a greater risk than two parent family. Children of depressed
parents are at greater risk of having developmental problems. They are at risk of having trouble
with attachment, difficulties in cognitive functioning and social interaction. Moreover, will have
trouble interacting with peers, closed family members and parents. Children that are exposed to
parental depression are at risk of developing affective disorder, anxiety and aggressiveness. In
addition, children with ADHD and learning disabilities have been attributed to being exposed to
parental depression. In order to prevent or reduce the cause and effect of parental depression in
parents and children, factors that predisposed them should be address. Risk factors such as
poverty, dissatisfaction in marriage, work and family related stress should be addressed.
Furthermore, the sooner parental depression is established and adequate management initial will
also help reduce the effects of depression on child development. The management plan should be
a collective of everyone associated with the affected family. The treatment plan should include
antidepressants, social supports and family therapy aim at preventing depression from affecting
the cognitive development of children. It is my hope that with the involvement of health care
provider, family, social worker, community resources and teacher, the Federal government will
be able to meet its target goal of reducing the percentage of adult with major depressive episode
from 6.8 percent to 6.1 percent in 2020.

Parental Depression and Childhood Development

Parental Depression and Childhood Development

Parental Depression and Childhood Development

Parental Depression and Childhood Development

 
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