Table of Contents  
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 720-721  

Anxiety and depression in mothers of deaf children: Awareness needed

Prof and Head, Department of Psychiatry, Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences (DU) Rural Medical College and Hospital, Loni, Dist. Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication18-Nov-2014

Correspondence Address:
Suprakash Chaudhury
Prof and Head, Department of Psychiatry, Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences (DU) Rural Medical College and Hospital, Loni, Dist. Ahmednagar, Maharashtra
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How to cite this article:
Chaudhury S. Anxiety and depression in mothers of deaf children: Awareness needed. Med J DY Patil Univ 2014;7:720-1

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Chaudhury S. Anxiety and depression in mothers of deaf children: Awareness needed. Med J DY Patil Univ [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Dec 6];7:720-1. Available from:

Psychological effects on mothers of hearing impairment in their children are a major, but less studied, problem all over the world. More than 90% of deaf children are born to parents with normal hearing. A number of parents of deaf children experience stress, not only in response to the initial diagnosis, but also due to increased financial and time strains, difficult communication interactions with their children, feelings of stigmatization and isolation, and in adapting to the unique needs of their deaf child. The presence of a deaf child causes stress in families who have had little contact with deaf persons and have very little knowledge about the implications of deafness. In addition to coping with the shock of the initial diagnosis, families must acquire an understanding of a substantial and complex body of knowledge about management of the deaf child including information on amplification devices, sign language, educational methods, school placements, and legal issues. [1]

The psychological reaction of the parents to the diagnosis of deafness in their child typically includes feelings of grief, helplessness, guilt and anger. In addition, given the central role of hearing to human communication, a sense of isolation within the parent-child dynamic is inevitable. [2] Psychological adjustment of a parent to a child's diagnosis of deafness commonly evolves through the following stages, which need not necessarily occur in the order described here: (1) initially anger toward the doctors who made the diagnosis of deafness in their child; (2) subsequently anger toward the child as they are unable to deny the existence of the hearing loss; and finally (3) the acceptance of the hearing impaired child by the parents, marking the transition from sadness and anger to the development of adaptation and coping behaviors. Successful resolution of parent's anger and grief at diagnosis of deafness is important to the child's future as these feelings may otherwise be manifested as depression. [3] While raising a deaf child, parents are faced with a number of chronic stresses including frequent visits to speech therapists, controversies about oral versus manual communication, and decisions about educational placement. These chronic stresses drain the parents' energy, money, and time, and potentially may result in frustration, social isolation, anxiety and depression. [4],[5]

Psychological development of children depends on the quality of maternal care-giving and emotional responsiveness. Therefore children are especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of maternal depression. Depression can negatively affect a deaf child's outcome, as depressed mothers have been found to be less sensitive to their child's need and hence are less effective at nurturing language and psycho-social development in their children. Self-esteem of the parents, particularly the mother, is also crucial to the child's success, and all clinical endeavors should be devoted to empowering and increasing parents' self-confidence. Family involvement and particularly maternal self-efficacy have a positive influence on deaf children's language development and other outcomes. The more successful the mothers are in acquiring helpful strategies for coping with their deaf child, the better developed are the children's emotional sensitivity, reading competence, and problem-solving behavior. The children also exhibit less impulsive behavior, higher cognitive flexibility, and better social competence. [5],[6],[7]

The silver lining to the dark cloud is that most mothers of deaf children do not feel a high level of general parenting stress or dissatisfaction with their lives and support networks, though they are likely to feel stress in areas specific to deafness. However, since parenting stress is highly stable, it is important to intervene when mothers of deaf children are expressing high levels of stress. [8]

  References Top

Feher-Prout T. Stress and Coping in Families with Deaf Children. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ 1996;1:155-66.  Back to cited text no. 1
Mellon NK. Parental Response to the Diagnosis of Hearing loss. In: Niparko JK, 2 nd ed. In Cochlear Implants: Principles and practices.Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; 2009. p 147-150.  Back to cited text no. 2
Stein LK, Jabaley T. Behavioral Hearing Testing of Children. In: Northern JL, Downs MP 4 th editors. Hearing In Children, New York: William and Wilkins;1981. p.183-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Quitter AI. Coping with a hearing impaired child. In: Johnson JH, Johnson SB, editors, Advances in child health psychology. Gainsville: University of Florida Press; 1991. p. 206-23.   Back to cited text no. 4
Prakash SS, Prakash SG, Ravichandran A, Susan KY, Alex W. Measuring levels of stress and depression in mothers of children using hearing aids and cochlear implants: A comparative study. Int J Special Educ 2013;28:37-44.  Back to cited text no. 5
Punch R, Hyde M. Rehabilitation efforts and stress in parents of children with cochlear implant. Aust New Zealand J Audiol 2010;32:1-18.   Back to cited text no. 6
Hintermair M. Parental resources, parental stress, and socioemotional development of deaf and hard of hearing children. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ 2006;11:493-513.   Back to cited text no. 7
Lederberg AR, Golbach T. Parenting stress and social support in hearing mothers of deaf and hearing children. A longitudinal study. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ 2002;7:330-45.  Back to cited text no. 8


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