There May Be A Link Between A Mom’s Postpartum Depression & ADHD In Kids

by Vanessa Taylor

Mental health isn't always given the attention that it deserves, especially when it comes to moms and kids. A new study is highlighting why people need to continue building awareness around mental health, though, after finding that there may be a link between mom's postpartum depression and ADHD. This doesn't mean moms are to blame, but points to the importance of caring for moms' postnatal mental health.

Postpartum depression is a form of depression that you could potentially get after having a baby. According to WebMD, a study found that about 1 in 7 moms will get postpartum depression, meaning it's fairly common. The symptoms of postpartum depression can vary, from sadness and despair, to feeling unable to care for yourself or your baby, as outlined by WebMD. However, according to the American Psychology Association, clinicians believe that it's majorly under-diagnosed.

"There's so much stigma about postpartum depression," Susan Hatters Friedman, a psychiatrist at Case Western Reserve University, said, according to the APA, “As a society, we expect it to be the happiest time of a woman’s life. A lot of women don’t report if they’re having symptoms.”

Recently, researchers from a new Australian study looked into a possible link between a mom's postpartum depression and ADHD in kids when they're a bit older.

Researchers found evidence of an indirect pathway between "parenting hostility" (being excessively controlling or rigidly enforcing rules) displayed by moms experiencing postpartum and ADHD in 8-year-old and 9-year-old kids, as outlined by the study's abstract.

"We ... found that parenting hostility was associated with a child having a diagnosis or symptoms of ADHD," Emma Sciberras, the study's author, told HuffPost Canada.

Although the results are just correlative, meaning more research needs to be done, researchers noted in the study's abstract that "exposure to maternal mental health problems during pregnancy and the first year of life had been associated with the development of ADHD."

In a different study, researchers conducted an assessment of over 1,000 Finnish mothers and their children and found that ADHD symptoms were more common in the offspring of depressed mothers.

The CDC considers ADHD to be one of the most common behavioral conditions that affects kids, as WebMD noted. And according to a meta-analysis published in Pediatrics, it affects just over seven percent of children worldwide.

The Australian researchers noted, in the study's abstract, "Our findings highlight the importance of early identification and intervention for maternal postnatal distress, as treatment may prevent mothers from developing hostile parenting practices and also disrupt the pathway to ADHD in their offspring."

However, this does not mean that mothers should blame themselves or feel guilty for experiencing depression. "Mothers should not feel that they are to blame for their child's ADHD," Sciberras told HuffPost Canada. "We suspect that children's challenging behavior early in life may be connected to mother's postnatal mental health."

Again, more research is needed. Getting help for mental health issues can be hard, especially with all the stigma attached to it. Undoing some of that stigma is how people can ensure that both moms and kids receive the care they need.

If you or someone you know is experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, contact the Postpartum Health Alliance warmline at (888) 724-7240, or Postpartum Support International at (800) 944-4773. If you are thinking of harming yourself or your baby, get help right away by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or dialing 911. For more resources, you can visit Postpartum Support International.