We’ve all heard the expression, when Mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy. Now it seems that not only does happiness suffer in families when mother is feeling low, but health is at risk as well.

In a six-month study of 262 black mothers and their children to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, the Johns Hopkins Children's Center found that depressive symptoms in mothers correlated to more frequent asthma symptoms in children. The study focused on black mothers and children because black children are disproportionately affected by asthma.

Even though our research was not set up to measure just how much a mom's depression increased the frequency of her child's symptoms, a clear pattern emerged in which the latter followed the earlier

— senior investigator Kristin Riekert, a pediatric psychologist and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Adherence Research Center.

Researchers had expected that the mothers’ depression would also be increased by a greater number of episodes of her child's asthma symptoms. In other words, a kid with asthma would make them more depressed. However, they did not find this to be true. The result, they say, suggests that a mother's depression is an independent risk factor. This means the level of depression can predict the severity of a child’s asthma.

Intuitively, it may seem that we’re dealing with a chicken-egg situation, but our study suggests otherwise. The fact that mom’s depression was not affected by how often her child had symptoms really caught us off guard, but it also suggested which factor comes first

— Riekert.

In this study, they were only looking at the link between depression and asthma, but their findings, especially as relates to care of a sick child are important to consider for any potential illness.

Because depression often involves fatigue, memory lapses and problems with concentration, it can impair a mother's ability to manage her child's asthma, which may require daily drug treatments and frequent doctor visits.


Mom is the one who must implement the doctor's recommendations for treatment and follow-up, and if she is depressed she can't do it well, so the child will suffer

— lead investigator Michiko Otsuki.

I’ve never suffered clinical depression, but I know when I’m not feeling my best my family suffers. When I’m happy, I take better care of myself and of them. Isn’t this common sense?

What do you think?