Saturday, July 21, 2012

poor mums made mental

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.

Judith C. Baer, an associate professor in the School of Social Work, and her team 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." Rather, "there is a physical need in the real world that is unmet and produces anxiety...Our findings suggest that anxiety in poor mothers is usually not a psychiatric problem but a reaction to severe environmental deficits"

Baer thinks that modern psychiatric diagnostic standards, based heavily on the symptoms that a patient is presenting, don't leave much room for context. As a result, many poor mothers are told they have a mental disorder when their anxiety is really a byproduct of their lives. "Basically we were trying to speak to the fact that much of life is being pathologized -- and unnecessarily so," Baer said in a telephone interview.

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