Mom’s Depression Can Affect Babies, Too

When we think of depression in moms, we usually think about postpartum depression and its symptoms. With the birth of my third child, I felt many of these symptoms. I was exhausted. I was super moody. I had no interest in activities and I just didn’t want to bond as much with my sweet Audrey. For some moms, postpartum depression is much more serious and may require help from a trusted midwife or physician.

We all know that our relationships with our kids can affect them for the long run. Scary stuff right there. I want to shape my kids into well-rounded, happy people. One study shows that adults who suffer through problems at home or abuse as children are more likely to suffer disease as adults.

Another study has shown there is a possible link between depression in moms and cellular damage in infants. Okay, here’s some science: Telomeres are caps at the end of our DNA that protect our chromosomes. These telomeres shorten over time and when a person experiences stress, these telomeres degrade more quickly.

The study used 48 moms with 12-week-old babies. These families were followed until the infants were 18 months old, which is just a month older than my sweet Audrey. When the babies were 6 and 12 months old, they were brought into a lab to be put through some mildly stressful tasks. Saliva samples were collected to see changes in cortisol, a stress hormone. The infants with higher cortisol levels were most likely to have shorter telomeres at 18 months old, which showed greater wear and tear in their cellular makeup.

So, mommas, how do we take better care of ourselves in order to be better moms for our little ones? Get help if you need it. Counseling, talking to your doctor, do whatever it takes. For me, it’s taking little mom breaks occasionally to recharge my batteries. Motherhood is our job. It’s a huge responsibility and we need to take it seriously. Love those babies and let’s raise the next generation of kids who are happy and can handle whatever the road ahead may hold.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 3 in Arkasnsas where she needs a mom break occasionally to recharge.

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