Depressed Moms, Your Kids Would Be Less Depressed If You Put Them In Daycare

shutterstock_140863210__1371906169_142.196.156.251As if dealing with depression weren’t enough, when you are a mom you also have to deal with the guilt of possibly passing depression and anxiety along to your kids. Research shows that depressed moms are more likely to have children with depression and anxiety issues.

A new Canadian study reveals that children of depressed mothers are less likely to develop emotional issues if they spend some time in daycare. The researchers followed 1,800 children born to mothers in Quebec in 1997-1998 through their fifth birthday. During that time, the women regularly reported about their depression symptoms, any emotional problems their child was experiencing, and the type of childcare they used.

From Reuters:

About 19 percent of mothers had depression symptoms during the study period. And as previous research has suggested, their children were almost twice as likely to develop emotional problems and separation anxiety before age five.

However, being in childcare seemed to mitigate that effect. The association was particularly strong for group-based childcare, as opposed to care provided by a relative or babysitter.

Among children with depressed mothers, attending daycare was tied to a 79 percent reduced risk of developing emotional problems, compared to kids who stayed home with their moms.

They found that how many hours a kid spent in daycare a week didn’t matter as much as the type of care they were getting. Children benefited more from being in a structured setting around a group of other kids than just being watched by a babysitter or relative. Makes sense. I just recently started bringing my child to a structured playgroup with other kids his age and it is pure glee the entire time we are there. He loves being around other kids – and I love watching him love being around other kids.

We recently made a big move out of New York. One of the driving motivations for the move was the fact that we couldn’t afford daycare there. We are in the process of trying to find one that is a good fit now. I can tell that the stress of the move and my own unhappiness with being somewhere where I have no friends has gotten to him. This study makes complete sense to me. Is it better for my child to be around a stressed out mom 24/7, or get a break to be around kids his age? Seems like a no-brainer. Not to mention the fact that I could use a little break, too.

Catherine Ayoub, who has studied Early Head Start programs at Harvard Medical School in Boston says, ”Yes, you may be depressed, but you also can really move toward resilience. It’s okay to find the best possible care for your child that’s also a way to take care of yourself.”

Amen. Now if only all families had the resources to afford it. Then we would really be getting somewhere.

(photo: Olesya Feketa/ Shutterstock)

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  • Véronique Houde

    Where the research was done (in my home province whoop whoop!) daycare is subsidized. Either you pay 7$ a day (which comes with meals), or you pay 35$ a day but get tax credits and deductions that make daycare even cheaper than the 7$ a day formula (and you can get the tax credit applied to your paycheck so you don’t have to wait until the end of the year to see the money).

    They’ve even been allowing people on welfare to send their children to daycare for even cheaper, because they’ve found that these children fare better if they’re in a structured environment from very early on. They’ll have fewer mental issues, social issues, will do better in school, and perhaps be able to get out of the poverty cycle.

    • Blooming_Babies

      Here in America I imagine lots of people shouting about why anyone would have kids if they don’t want to take care of them. Willfully ignorant to the benefits there would be plenty of talk about the breakdown of traditional family values. Sad.

    • Véronique Houde

      well, the ridiculous part is that every penny invested, the government gets back many times because of the fact that they have more women entering the workforce, hence paying more taxes, and research suggests that going to daycare leads to better education, hence higher taxes being paid when these toddlers get out of school. All logic has demonstrated that investing in helping families makes for a stronger society ;). At least we got that right. Now, if only we can find enough family doctors for everyone, we’re set. ;) Among other things…

    • Psych Student

      Now now, in America we don’t *do* logic. And we CERTAINLY don’t think to consider things until they affect us personally. Until all our politicians are homeless, on welfare, trying to take care of their gay, disabled children, while being not-white and not-Christian, we won’t see the kinds of changes that would be beneficial to society as a whole.

    • Paul White

      I can sympathize from an ideological perspective. I may support some programs that I still resent simply because I think they’re worth it…but that doesn’t mean I don’t resent our tax dollars funding benefits for a person’s 5th child that they can’t afford.

    • allisonjayne

      I’m in Ontario….a friend of mine recently moved from Ontario to Quebec and I am very, very jealous of her daycare situation. She did say it wasn’t quite as awesome as our daycare (my kid goes to the daycare her son left) but yeah, for the price….

  • ElleJai

    Brilliant news! My child has a greatly reduced chance of picking up on my depression since he spends time in daycare for my sanity. Apparently it’s also for his sanity (as well as his independence and socialisation). I love doing the right thing ;)