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October 26, 2012

Mothers of ADHD kids at risk for depression

If you are the mother of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may be at increased risk for depression, according to a study conducted by a Louisiana-based family physician.

Dr. Louis McCormick conducted a year-long study of mothers of children with ADHD who were patients in his Franklin, La., medical practice. Of the 39 mothers who took the study’s Self-Test for Depression, 21 had scores that suggested depression. Eleven women scored in the “minimal to mild” range; five in the “moderate to marked” range; and five in the “severe to extreme” range. The mothers were then interviewed, diagnosed and, where appropriate, treated.

So, what does this study really mean? McCormick theorizes that the stress of parenting an ADHD child can create situational depression, that is, depression caused by a specific stressful life event: divorce, death of a loved one, losing one’s job, an unwilling move to another location, ill parents and, of course, in this case, a child with an extremely demanding and frustrating condition which, in some cases, can also create financial distress.

ADHD children are often loud, physically overactive, impulsive, and seemingly unwilling to follow directions. They can be reckless, even accident-prone. They may alienate their friends, frustrate their teachers, and annoy neighbors, thereby causing their mothers great distress on many levels.

While certainly there is treatment for ADHD, it requires much time and fine-tuning to develop the appropriate skills for dealing with a child’s behavior, and for the overall treatment (which sometimes includes medication) to be effective. This requires great patience and persistence from the parents. This can take a major psychological toll on mothers who are most often the primary caretakers.

In some cases, mothers may have a biological predisposition to depression. The enormous stress of parenting an ADHD child, McCormick believes, triggers that predisposition to depression, and is an underlying, additional layer of the situational depression.

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