Anxiety in moms can adversely affect children

  • By Dr. Neha Agrawal

The bond of a mother and child has been talked about everywhere and in every context. The relationship is so strong that the emotional patterns easily pass on from a mother to her children.

Researchers have cited conclusive evidence and shown the effects of parental influence on children’s moods, especially in the form of anxiety disorders in mothers around the perinatal (before, during, after pregnancy) period. Work focused around anxiety and depressive states in mothers, sometimes even eating disorders suggested how a child’s emotional vulnerability is affected by the same.

It is well known that women are susceptible to anxiety disorders in the childbearing age, owing to multiple factors – like hormones, life situations, stress, etc.

How does it affect?

Anxious mothers are unable to be productively and effectively engaged with their children in their early years of life. Also, the quality of parenting gets affected because the mother may be slightly withdrawn and lost in anxious thoughts. Nervousness, worries and stress will naturally take a toll on her ability to be involved with the baby. Her patience levels and emotional state get hampered.

An anxious pregnant lady will experience relatively high levels of the hormone called cortisol. As a consequence, the cortisol levels in the developing baby increases too. Stress in mother can also affect the nutrition to the developing fetus and adversely affect it.

Maternal anxiety may directly affect the development of brain of the growing fetus.

The mother at the gunpoint always

History has it and we see it all around us, women are the center for all blame game about a child’s health – mental or physical. This is true, specifically around pregnancy.

Don’t wear heels. Don’t lift heavy objects. Don’t eat this, eat that.

And now, no more getting anxious. It is not as easy as it seems. The ones who have to advice, recommend or supervise have it simple – they say and expect her to follow. It is the woman’s life that is taking a mighty turn, physically, socially, emotionally. Be kind to her, support her and offer understanding.

If she is anxious, help her allay her anxieties by being her friend. Don’t just tell her, so much can go wrong, so don’t be anxious. That won’t work.

Studies conducted on anxious children, showed a direct relationship with mothers having anxiety disorders.