Dissociative experiences and their relationship to mood problems among Arab mothers of disabled children

  • M Al-Eithan
  • H Al Juban
  • AA Robert
Keywords: Dissociation, Mood, Depression, anxiety, mothers of disabled children, Saudi Arabia


Introduction: To examine the presence of dissociation among Arab mothers with disabled children in Saudi Arabia, and to explore if this is linked to their mood difficulties, in addition to certain other demographic variables.

Methods: We conducted a prospective study during the period of June 2011 to February 2012, on 86 mothers (study group) caring for children with physical, mental or sensory disabilities treated at Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Patients' selection was conducted using convenience sampling, non-probability technique. A total of 32 mothers (control group) with healthy children were also included. The Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES-11 Arabic) was used to measure dissociation whereas; the hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS) was used to measure the mood symptoms of mothers. The demographic data of mothers and children were also collected.

Results: The mean age of the children with disability was 5.6.±3.1 and healthy children 6.3±3.7 (range 1-14) years. The mean age of mothers in the study group (n=86) was 33.9±6.1 while the control group was 35.2±7.3 years. Results showed that the study group had higher level (Mean=39.9; SD=24.033) of dissociative experience than control sample (Mean=21.08; SD=14.487) (p=0.0001). Compared to control, mothers of disabled children scored significantly higher HADS-anxiety (p=0.042) and HADS-depression (p=0.021). In addition, results also showed that dissociation had significant correlation with mother's depression and anxiety. However, no significant correlations were found between dissociation and child's and mother's age.

Conclusion: Mothers of disabled children in Saudi Arabia showed significantly more dissociative experiences than controls, which is correlated to their anxiety and depression. Clinical implications are discussed.

Key words: Dissociation, Mood, Depression, anxiety, mothers of disabled children, Saudi Arabia


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eISSN: 1937-8688