Unrecognized maternal depression affects children

My mother grew up in rural Ontario where mental health was a taboo subject. She started having children at age 19 and became more depressed as each child was born. I was the oldest and by the time I was 6 years old there were 4 children in our home (with me included). Depression was severe by now and with no support my mother used me for psychological support.

I was a little kid who wanted her love so I absorbed all of her negativity and took responsibility for her happiness. She became more angry at her kids and my Dad for her situation and was unable to show affection. I have 4 brothers and sisters and I am certain we all have some form of childhood PTSD. Therapy did not help me entirely but I have slowly come to understand why I behave the way I do under certain triggers and how to manage this.

Untreated postpartum depression leads to adults who may have uncontrolled rage triggered by certain circumstances as well as severe depression. Developing these responses as children makes them harder to understand as adults. Attention to this is critical for health and safety. Having worked in healthcare I believe in preventative education (for not only patients but their husbands and families) as someone who is depressed in a time society labels as joyful (birth of a child) may be ashamed to or not recognize their need for care.

If not treated a domino-effects as happened in my family will continue as injury to children in the home is a given (mental development of children – that is neural pathways) are changed by living in such stressful environments.

Thank you for this day and the awareness that I am sure will follow.

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