Oliver James: The Mental Block

The need for pregnant mothers to avoid stress is revealed in a recent study on its post-natal effect on children (Development and Psychopathology). Mothers who reported high levels of anxiety in late pregnancy were twice as likely to have children with behavioural or emotional problems at the age of four, and this was still true when the children were seven. This remarkably large effect existed over and above other relevant factors, like obstetric problems or post-natal anxiety or depression.

Other studies have shown that fetal heart rate and behaviour strongly correlate with the mother's emotional state. It seems that persistently excessive levels of the cortisol hormone in stressed mothers are passed to the fetus, setting them, like a thermostat, at a high level which endures into childhood. However, the good news is that (also like a thermostat) the levels can be changed, reduced to healthier ones post-natally by sensitive, responsive mothering.

Numerous studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) reduces the symptoms of medicated schizophrenics who are living in the community and have stabilised after an acute episode, compared with equivalent ones who get no CBT. A recent study (Psychological Medicine) demonstrated that CBT also helped those who were hospitalised and suffering an acute attack. They felt less negative, had fewer psychotic symptoms (like delusions or hallucinations) and were better able to socialise. Implication: if someone you know starts claiming they're a poached egg and is hospitalised, insist they get some CBT.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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