Opportunities and Challenges in Addressing Maternal Depression in Community Settings

JAMA Psychiatry Editorial | June 14, 2017
Robert T. Ammerman, PhD, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

Robert T. Ammerman, PhD, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

Depression in mothers is recognized as a major public health problem that is multigenerational in its impacts. Depression undermines parenting by interfering with attachment and impeding the mother’s ability to recognize and respond to child cues and needs, as well as create the nurturing and stimulating environment required for optimal child development. These problems are particularly deleterious for children for whom the first years of life are foundational and represent a sensitive period for emotional and behavioral development.1 Low-income mothers are at great risk for major depressive disorder, with rates of diagnosis at least double that of their counterparts with greater social and financial resources.2 The negative consequences of maternal depression for mothers and children are amplified in low-income families. Mothers in poverty are more likely to have a persistent course of depression, and for most, there are barriers to accessing treatment that are often insurmountable.3 As such, identifying and intervening with mothers at greatest risk is imperative.

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Read study in JAMA Psychiatry
Efficacy of a Maternal Depression Prevention Strategy in Head StartA Randomized Clinical Trial