One hundred and eighty one white children aged 6 to 11 years who were attending medical outpatient clinics with their mothers were studied to assess the prevalence of psychological disturbance in the children, and anxiety and depression in the mothers. Teachers were also asked to assess the children independently using the Rutter scales. Mothers assessed 70 (39%) of the children as being disturbed, 20 of whom were also assessed as being disturbed by their teachers. A further 15 children were assessed as being disturbed by their teachers but not by their mothers. Thirty five (19%) of the mothers assessed themselves as anxious and two as depressed using the hospital anxiety and depression scale. Anxious and depressed mothers were significantly more likely to assess their child as being disturbed. In contrast, the teachers' assessments of the children were not affected by the mental state of the mothers. These findings confirm that mothers' perceptions of their children are modified by their own moods.
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