The country’s largest clinical study on depression, the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression, or STAR*D, began in 1999 and concluded this month. The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The latest phase in the study addressed the relation of a child’s psychological state to his mother’s rate of improvement. The findings revealed that when a mother recovers from depression, her child makes significant behavioral improvements even twelve months after the mother ends her treatment. Co-author Madhukar Trivedi, professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern said, “It is very rare to treat a patient and have an impact on people around the patient that is this significant. While the effect in the short term is clearly robust, the bigger issue is that this effect is long-lasting,” he said. “One year after their mothers’ remissions, these children continued to show further improvement. This is almost unbelievable.”
Statistics show that almost nine percent of adolescents in the United States show symptoms of depression, and almost three percent of children are depressed. Additional research has shown that depressive symptoms appear earlier than in past years, and the depression often presents with other mental issues such as substance abuse, aggression or anxiety.
In a related article, Dr. Trivedi said, “For kids’ sakes, we should be very aggressive in treating patients, particularly mothers. The more improved care we can provide to depressed mothers, the greater extent we can positively benefit their children.” These recent results showed a direct link between the decrease of the child’s symptoms, both social functioning and depressive symptoms, and the amount of time it took for the mother to recover. When the mother remitted during the first twelve weeks, children showed improvement for a period extending past twelve months. Dr. Trivedi concluded, “The take-home message is this: The faster we can get mothers better, the greater impact on their children.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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