Parenting a Child on the Autism Spectrum

By Health Day

Mothers raising children with autism or other developmental disorders are themselves particularly vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and depression.

But new research suggests that meditative techniques that focus on relaxation can help. The finding published in the journal Pediatrics stems from work with 243 such moms about 2/3 of whom cared for children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

About 85% of the women suffered from elevated stress. Nearly half were clinically depressed and more than 40% had an anxiety disorder. Half were randomly assigned to a "stress reduction mindfulness" group and for 6 weeks they were tutored on breathing, meditation, relaxation, and movement techniques. The other half, assigned to a "positive psychology" group that helped mothers counter feelings of guilt, conflict, worry, and negativity with optimism and forgiveness.

Both interventions helped. But ultimately, the mindfulness approach seemed to offer greater stress relief suggesting that it may be a more effective way to address the mental health concerns of moms in need.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the news doctors are reading Ð health news that matters to you.

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