Youth Depression and Early Childrearing: Stress Generation and Intergenerational Transmission of Depression

Department of Psychology, University of California-Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (Impact Factor: 4.85). 06/2011; 79(3):353-63. DOI: 10.1037/a0023536
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Broadening the concept of stress generation beyond acute life events, the current study explores predictors of the creation of stressful environments-specifically, selection into early childrearing by age 20. It was predicted that youth with early onset depressive disorders would be at higher risk for early childrearing accompanied by greater depression and parenting maladjustment. Additional analyses tested hypotheses about the roles of interpersonal vulnerability and intergenerational transmission of depression and examined gender differences.
A community sample of 706 adolescents and their mothers were studied at ages 15 and 20. The sample was originally selected to oversample families with depressed mothers.
Results confirmed the hypotheses for women but not men: Young women with depression by age 15 were at greater risk for interpersonal difficulties at age 15 and early childrearing, accompanied by further depression and parenting dysfunction at age 20. The effects of (grand)maternal depression were evident in predicting youth early onset depression and interpersonal difficulties, as well as higher rates of depression among their daughters who had children by age 20.
The study expands the definition of stress generation to include the role of past depression and other risk factors as predictors of selection into a stressful childrearing environment. The findings also describe aspects of the intergenerational transmission of depression. The results highlight potentially important targets for interventions in young women to prevent recurrence of major depression and parenting dysfunction.

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