ADHD and postpartum depression may be linked but that means mothers need more support
An Australian study suggests that there may be a link between postpartum depression in mothers and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in their children.


While researchers from Australia believe they've found a link between a mother's postpartum depression and ADHD, they are quick to note that it's not a causative link, and attention to and intervention for a mother's postpartum depression may disrupt an ADHD pathway in her child.

Related: Study: Reducing Harsh Parenting Approaches Helps Children With ADHD

The study suggests that 'parenting hostility' defined as over-controlling, negative or rigid enforcement of rules in mothers who have postpartum depression may be linked to their children and ADHD. They do not believe a mother having PPD causes ADHD in her child, but do believe there may be a connection.

Emma Sciberras is a study author and said that there is no specific cause of ADHD that's been found. The purpose of their study was to look at the possible link between a parent's mental health and ADHD to better support parents if the link exists. Sciberras explicitly notes that mothers are not at all to blame for their child's ADHD. However they believe there is a connection to challenging behavior from their children and their postpartum mental health, and this relates directly to 'hostile parenting' as the result of depression.

There is research that shows the parents of children with ADHD may experience more stress in parenting when compared to those who don't have ADHD. Symptoms of Postpartum depression range from mild to severe, and if left untreated, can become chronic and impacting depression. This can in turn affect a child's neurological development. The study found that recognizing maternal distress after giving birth and giving mothers more support in treatment may help the challenging behaviors of their children bring less stress.

Related: Postpartum Pain May Be Linked To Increased Postpartum Depression

Because there is often no consistent screening for postpartum depression, and mothers are often left to bring symptoms out to their providers, often supportive resources are missed. The study looked at longitudinal data for children between the ages of three and twelve months and then again at eight and nine-years-old and also looked at parental reports of warmth, consistency and hostility. They found that there was evidence of an indirect pathway from PPD to ADHD in their elementary aged child via the parenting hostility factor but not through warmth or consistency. This was was true regardless of the parent's current mental health status.

The researchers believe that early identification and intervention for postpartum depression is pivotal, as their treatment may prevent them from developing hostile parenting practices, and in turn may disrupt that pathway to ADHD in their kids.

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