Maternal Anxiety Can Affect Kids with Cerebral Palsy

effect-of-mother-maternal-depression-on-child-with-cerebral-palsyA recent study published in the journal Archives of Neuropsychiatry suggests that maternal anxiety and depression could affect the quality of life for children suffering from cerebral palsy.

A major cause of physical disability, cerebral palsy causes motor and sensory impairment, creating symptoms that include low muscle tone, muscle spasms and poor muscle control. Aside from these side effects, children can also experience another condition that affects their health: stress.

Facts About the Study

The study, “Impact of Symptoms of Maternal Anxiety and Depression on Quality of Life of Children with Cerebral Palsy” tested the relationship between parental mental health and parent proxy-reports on health-related quality of life in children with cerebral palsy.

Specifically, researchers looked at 97 cerebral palsy patients from the ages 7 to 18, while also factoring in maternal depression and anxiety symptoms using the Beck Depression Inventory and the Beck Anxiety Inventory.

In the end, results showed that maternal anxiety and depression did in fact negatively affect a child’s quality of life. Though this was found to be true, the study concluded by noting, “Further research in longitudinal studies that include larger samples and both parents as participants is necessary.”

If you believe you’re currently suffering from depression or anxiety, or recognize symptoms in your spouse, it could be beneficial to seek help. Parents should consider how their own health could be impacting their child’s quality of life – especially if the child has cerebral palsy.

How to Improve Anxiety or Depression

If you decide to seek treatment for your anxiety or depression apart from medication, consider trying the following tips:

Stay Away from Social Media

While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all great tools for keeping in touch with friends and family, social media platforms often breed comparison, sometimes unconsciously leading users to gauge their own level of happiness based on the perceived happiness of others. This can trigger jealousy, insecurity and overall feelings of dissatisfaction. Limiting your exposure to social media could help clarify your thoughts and feelings, with less negativity and more contentment.

Get Your Feelings Out on Paper

It is healthy to be aware of your feelings at all times, and you shouldn’t stifle them or ignore it when you are experiencing negative ones. Keeping a journal or daily record of your thoughts and feelings can help release negative energy. Tracking your feelings is also a great way to look back and see patterns in your mood and behavior, essentially keeping a timeline of your emotions. Writing your feelings down can help you better assess and maintain them.

Find Someone to Talk To

As you are able to, find someone to talk to about what you’re feeling and confide in, as loneliness can cause anxiety and depression to worsen. Isolating yourself from others can exacerbate your mood, creating an unhealthy environment at home. Whether you find a friend, family member or professional to process with, it’s important to express yourself.

It’s Okay to Ask For Help

If you are the mother of a child with cerebral palsy who is suffering from depression and anxiety, know that you are not alone. You can live a healthier, happier life and it may start with asking for help. You and your child deserve the best life you can attain, and you can start today by choosing to take control.

Finding peace with yourself takes time and work, so don’t be discouraged if it does not happen overnight. If you are committed to getting healthy, you may discover that anxiety, depression and stress become less prominent in your family’s life.


Ted Oshman has been with The Oshman Firm since 1988 serving clients for over 25 years. Learn more about Ted's background and featured practice areas here.

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