Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Anxiety disorders in poor moms likely to result from poverty, not mental illness, study suggests

Date:
July 20, 2012
Source:
Rutgers University
Summary:
Poor mothers are more likely to be classified as having the mental illness known as generalized anxiety disorder because they live in poverty -- not because they are suffering from a psychiatric disorder, according to researchers.

Poor mothers are more likely to be classified as having the mental illness known as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) because they live in poverty -- not because they are suffering from a psychiatric disorder, according to Rutgers researchers.

Related Articles


Judith C. Baer, an associate professor in the School of Social Work, and her team, in the study, "Is it Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Poverty? An Examination of Poor Mothers and Their Children," published online in Child and Adolescent Social Work, argue that although high levels of stress over long periods can lead to psychological problems, there is no evidence that generalized anxiety disorder in poor mothers is because of an "internal malfunction."

The findings confirm earlier studies that the poorest mothers have the greater odds of being classified as having generalized anxiety disorder. But Baer and her team wrote, ." ..there is no evidence for a malfunction of some internal mechanism. Rather, "there is a physical need in the real world that is unmet and produces anxiety."

"The distinction is important because there are different ways to treat the problem," Baer said. "While supportive therapy and parent skills-training are often helpful, sometimes the most appropriate intervention is financial aid and concrete services."

Rutgers researchers argue that changing and broadening definitions for GAD have caused, in some cases, mental health experts to categorize the reactions of these mothers to the extreme conditions they face daily as symptoms of the anxiety disorder.

Baer's team has been exploring relationships between poor mothers and their children and whether links between poverty and maternal anxiety might play a part in their offspring developing anxiety of their own.

The latest research by Baer and colleagues MiSung Kim, who completed her doctorate in May, and Bonnie Wilkenfeld, a doctoral candidate, analyzed data from the ongoing Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study with 4,898 participants conducted at Princeton University, consisting of surveys and home observations when children were 3-years-old. It confirmed that the poorest mothers had greater odds of being classified as having GAD but that the path from anxiety to parenting stress was not supported.

"This suggests that mothers can be poor and anxious, but still provide positive parenting for their children," Baer said.

Currently, psychiatric diagnoses are based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which uses symptom-based criteria to determine disorders. Recent versions do not consider context, such as poverty conditions, in determining diagnoses, Baer said.

"Our findings suggest that anxiety in poor mothers is usually not a psychiatric problem but a reaction to severe environmental deficits," she continued. "Thus, assessment should include careful attention to contextual factors and environmental deficits as playing a role in the presentation of symptoms. Labeling an individual with a diagnosis, especially if it is inaccurate, has a serious social stigma."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rutgers University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Judith C. Baer, MiSung Kim, Bonnie Wilkenfeld. Is it Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Poverty? An Examination of Poor Mothers and Their Children. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s10560-012-0263-3

Cite This Page:

Rutgers University. "Anxiety disorders in poor moms likely to result from poverty, not mental illness, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120720083312.htm>.
Rutgers University. (2012, July 20). Anxiety disorders in poor moms likely to result from poverty, not mental illness, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120720083312.htm
Rutgers University. "Anxiety disorders in poor moms likely to result from poverty, not mental illness, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120720083312.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins