Exposure to maternal depression sows seeds of teenage emotional disorders

Posted on Monday, March 26, 2012

Dr. Ian Colman, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, and a Canada Research Chair in Mental Health Epidemiology, has published a study showing that children face an increased risk of depression in their teens if their mother suffered from depression when they were toddlers.

“It can be traumatic for the child,” explains Dr. Colman. “When the primary caregiver experiences a bout of depression when the child is between two to five years of age, the child feels like he is experiencing a loss after having becoming attached to the mother during infancy. Mom isn't there to help guide him through important stages of cognitive and social development, and this can have long-term consequences for his mental health.”

Dr. Colman's article was published today on the Public Library of Science (PLoS) website. The study followed 937 Canadian children from birth to adolescence, and his research will help identify children at risk of developing depression during their teen years. This will enable front-line child and youth mental-health experts to help these children earlier, before depression truly manifests itself. Dr. Colman encourages mothers who are suffering from depression to seek help.

About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa
The University of Ottawa's Faculty of Medicine is nationally recognized as a leader in medical research. Through their intense research activities, the Faculty of Medicine and its affiliated research institute partners have contributed significantly to the following uOttawa milestones: second-highest growth rate in overall Tri-Council funding (all programs) since 2003; ranked second in Canada by MacLean's magazine for medical science grants; and third-highest growth rate in Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funding since 2003 for universities with medical schools.

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