Friday, February 5, 2010

Depressed moms raise antisocial teens who become depressed moms

Here's an unpleasant cycle: Depressed moms raise antisocial teens who become depressed moms.
Children from urban areas whose mothers suffer from depression during pregnancy are more likely than others to show antisocial behavior, including violent behavior, later in life. Furthermore, women who are aggressive and disruptive in their own teen years are more likely to become depressed in pregnancy, so that the moms' history predicts their own children's antisocial behavior. ...
The study found that mothers who became depressed when pregnant were four times as likely to have children who were violent at 16. This was true for both boys and girls. The mothers' depression, in turn, was predicted by their own aggressive and disruptive behavior as teens.
So what do we do about it? Undepress moms? I'd hate to start routinely giving anti-depressants to pregnant women. Some sort of antidepressive psychological therapy? Does anything like that work on depression?

Given my predilection for believing in biological causes for behavior, it is not surprising that I suspect that hormones circulating in the mom's blood cross the placental barrier and affect the fetus's brain development in some way, so I assume people will be looking at ways of reducing the effect either during pregnancy or in the infant.

I am in general hopeful that all manner of brain dysfunction will prove amenable to medication or gene therapy. I am in general fearful that the line between a dysfunction that needs to be treated and just being different will be drawn by people I don't trust. How autistic does a person have to be before we figure they're broken and not just on an engineering career track? How destructively bipolar does a writer have to be to be forced onto meds? How strange does a religious prophet have to be before we give him meds to stop the voice of God in his head?

But that's depressing. On Friday morning, I'd rather think about the non-brain things that are clearly dysfunctional and will likely be fixable in the coming decades. Ommmmmmmmmmm.

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