What Are the Effects of Parental Mental Health on Children?
Research cited by the CDC shows that 1 in 14 children have a caregiver with poor mental health. Studies have found that mental health conditions in parents have a significant impact on their children’s own health and behavior.
In this article we will cover the numerous reasons for parents to be proactive in addressing their mental health needs and in turn help guide their children to do the same. Keep reading to learn more about the realities parents and children with a mental health disorder face as well as how a parent’s mental illness can impact children.
It’s important to note the difference between mental health and mental illness. These terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same.
For the purpose of this article, the term mental health issue(s) will be utilized. This encompasses both illnesses related to mental health as well as periods of poor emotional, psychological, and social welfare.
Parental Mental Health Issues Are Real
According to a study cited by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 children lives with a parent that suffers from depression. Overall, parental depression is often neglected.
Although coverage of parental mental health issues is scarce, postpartum depression (PPD) gets a measure of attention. If you are a mother or know mothers that have experienced PPD, you may be more aware of some of the stats.
There are variations of PPD, such as PPD psychosis and PPD OCD. 16% of women experience an anxiety disorder during pregnancy. Mother-child relationships can be especially fragile in the child’s early life stages.
Mental health issues and disorders are not always the result of a direct, identifiable cause. Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and extreme stress are just some examples of common mental health issues.
Reasons Related to the Presence of Mental Health Issues
Although the causes for mental health issues are not always clear or defined, there are factors that typically have a role in their presence, including:
A parent’s upbringing and relationship with their caregivers may shape how they communicate with the rest of the world. Even the treatment they get from their peers affects how they connect with others. Individuals with a measure of authority over a child in their community, such as other relatives or teachers, also bear a strong influence.
Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse leave severe inner scars for victims. Seeking ways to cope, some individuals may turn to substance abuse after adverse childhood experiences, which further contributes to poor mental health conditions.
Trauma is likely to cause at least temporary mental health distress, and negative experiences often have a lasting effect. Following a disaster, death of a loved one, or loss of employment one may experience situational anxiety and depression that linger for a lifetime.
Chronic conditions such as obesity, severe pain, or migraines can also be contributing factors to poor mental health. Physical and mental health conditions tend to feed off each other, and can contribute to a child’s risk of developing mental illness later in life.
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the effects of other causes of poor mental health, such as isolation due to social distancing. 70% of parents or caregivers reported at least one symptom of a mental health issue from December 2020-March 2021.
Economic hardship and the inability to find child care have been major stressors worldwide. Increased demands in the family circle, financially, and emotionally have taken common stress to another level. Some individuals are overworked while others can’t find employment, and many are taking care of their sick relatives, of which some do not survive.
The burdens outlined are just some that plague the world today. Add to that being a parent, responsible for another human life that looks to you for guidance.
The Effects of Parental Depression, Anxiety, and Stress on Children
The connection between a child’s mental health and development and that of their primary caregivers is undeniable. Emotional milestones depend heavily on the interrelationship between a child and its parents.
Are mental health issues hereditary? Research on depression and genetics indicates that genetics is not the only factor in play. Researchers generally agree that depression and other mental health issues are likely a result of genetics and external factors.
What Parents Can Do to Take Care of Their Mental Health
If your mental or emotional health is suffering, educate yourself about what you are experiencing. Medication, talk therapy, and TMS therapy are effective avenues of treatment.
There are different forms of therapy and specialized therapists that can cater to specific needs. Behavioral therapy may be especially helpful to parents in helping them navigate how to stay mentally healthy and maintain healthy relationship dynamics with their children.
For some, changes to lifestyle, learning coping mechanisms, and the elimination of stressors aren’t enough to relieve the effects of mental health issues. If this describes your situation, you are not without help.
Many have found Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to provide lasting relief from depression and other conditions, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more.
If traditional treatment methods have not proven effective with your depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, try TMS. Contact us at Oasis TMS to find out if TMS is right for you.
How Parents Can Help Their Children Navigate Mental Health
Children raised by parents struggling with a mental health issue may feel responsible for their parent’s mental health. Children should never feel that they are at fault or that their parent is suffering as a result of something they did.
Be supportive of your children as they experience the things you do in a different way. Through the pandemic, for example, children have faced the pressure of needing to keep up academically while acclimating to a whole new form of learning.
Do not let your child struggle silently. If you observe behavior that is abnormal or is a change from their baseline behavior, talk to your child and listen. Many parents regret not speaking up or paying attention to the signs that something was wrong.
Resources to Address Mental Health
If you are experiencing mental health issues such as parental depression, do not be afraid to seek help. On their own, these issues are a lot to handle. Furthermore, mental health concerns will often affect other aspects of your life, such as physical health, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
If you are the child of a person with mental health issues, NAMI is an excellent resource for navigating the road to recovery following circumstances that lead to mental health issues, including childhood trauma.
Get Help Today
The status of your mental health will change many times over a lifetime. It’s important to learn how to manage your condition so you can live a more fulfilling life. Learning how to cope with your own mental health journey will inspire others, especially those in your household.
Give your children a reason to believe that life is worth living despite any afflictions and that there is hope. If you are in the Kentucky area, contact Oasis TMS for relief.
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