Overcoming the Legacy of maternal Depression
Drawing on her experience of growing up with a depressed mother and then, years later, of becoming a depressed mother herself, Books for a Better Life winner Anne Sheffield casts long-overdue light on the grave threat to the health and happiness of millions of women and their children posed by maternal depression. One of every four women suffers from depression at some point in her life, often during the prime childbearing years, yet most fail to recognize the true source of their lack of joy in life and in parenting, their irritability and exhaustion, and the flawed personal relationships that characterize this common, treatable disease.
With honesty and empathy, Sheffield uses her own story as a springboard to alert other mothers to the dangers their unrecognized depression holds not only for themselves, but also for their children, whose risk of developing the illness is three times higher than the risk to children of non-depressed parents. She draws on extensive research by experts in psychiatry, psychology, and child development to explain why and how children with a depressed mother may lose out on a rewarding social life, perform below their academic potential, or fall victim to substance abuse.
Chapters on each age-group -- infancy and toddlerhood, school age, and adolescence -- pinpoint the symptoms and effects of a mother's depression on her children and offer advice on how to recognize these effects and so lessen or avoid them. And because depression's fallout destroys family cohesion and harmony, Sheffield draws attention to its impact on marital relations and outlines a strategy for fathers that will help them and their children weather the crisis.
The detailed information in Sorrow's Web about how to treat depression at any period in a mother's life -- during pregnancy or following delivery, when her children are teenagers, or later in life -- will help readers of all ages choose wisely from the range of medical and psychotherapeutic options available. Sheffield offers insider tips on how to tell the difference between good and poor practitioners, how to ensure that the illness does not return, and how to recognize and respond to warning signs of depression in vulnerable children.
Dedicated to the author's daughter, Sorrow's Web seamlessly weaves together real-life stories with street-smart advice. As the first book to demystify, destigmatize, and humanize a long- taboo subject, it points the way to sustaining and regaining a loving relationship between mother and child.
- Free Press, February 2001
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