Depression and the Parenting of Young Children: Making the Case for Early Preventive Mental Health Services

Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Hospital, MA 02139, USA.
Harvard Review of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 1.73). 10/2000; 8(3):148-53. DOI: 10.1080/hrp_8.3.148
Source: PubMed


Numerous developmental and clinical studies over the past 25 years have documented that parental depression is re- lated to a wide range of impaired developmental outcomes in children. Conversely, the burden of caring for young children may be a risk factor for adult depression. We briefly summa- rize the negative developmental correlates of parental de- pression, beginning in the first year of life. We relate these findings to the results of a recent national survey of de- pressive symptoms and parenting behaviors among parents of children under 3 years old in the United States. We then look at epidemiological data on correlates of adult depres- sion that point to stress associated with the care of children as a potential contributor to rates of depression among women. Finally, we discuss the implications of these data for the organization of mental health services for young families.

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Available from: Karlen Lyons-Ruth
    • "A Commonwealth Fund study of maternal depression found that as the number of depressive symptoms endorsed by mothers increased, mothers were less likely to make positive behaviors toward children, maintain daily routines, and read or play with children (Lyons-Ruth, Wolfe, & Lyubchik, 2000). As symptoms increased, mothers with depression were more likely to yell, spank, or feel annoyed, whereas fathers were more likely to hit, slap, or shake (Lyons-Ruth et al., 2000). Parents with depression have been found to be less able to provide a high-quality home environment (Downey & Coyne, 1990) and more likely to create a stressful home environment (Hammen et al., 1987; Murray & Cooper, 1997; Straus, 1991). "
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    ABSTRACT: Research Findings: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between low-level depressive symptoms in mothers and teacher-reported child behavioral outcomes. Participants included 442 low-income mothers of preschool-age children who were screened for maternal depression by their child's preschool teacher. Teacher reports of child behavior problems were collected on a random sample of the children (n = 264). Of mothers screened for depression, 16.7% reported low-level depressive symptoms (below the cutoff on the screener indicating clinically elevated symptoms). Analyses revealed that children of mothers with low-level depressive symptoms had significantly greater problems with externalizing behavior compared to children of mothers with no depressive symptoms. Practice or Policy: Results suggest that children whose mothers experience even low-level depressive symptoms are at risk for problems with behavior, pointing to the need for screening and interventions to address maternal depression at all levels of severity. Early childhood education providers are in an excellent position to support families impacted by symptoms of maternal depression through screening and education, supportive daily interactions, and referrals for services if needed. Teachers can also provide direct support for high-risk children's social and emotional skill development through the provision of sensitive, nurturing care.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Early Education and Development
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    • "The adverse influence of maternal depression on child health and development has been well documented in the literature, impacting global, social, emotional and cognitive development ([19-22], Lyons-Ruth et al. [23-25]). Infertile women have often undergone a long period of stress before achieving a successful pregnancy and symptoms of depression and anxiety are common during infertility treatment [2,3]. "
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    ABSTRACT: To compare the proportion of women with self-reported depression and anxiety symptoms at four months postpartum between mothers of singletons who conceived spontaneously and mothers who conceived with the aid of fertility treatment. The sample used for this study was drawn from The "All Our Babies Study", a community-based prospective cohort of 1654 pregnant women who received prenatal care in Calgary, Alberta. This analysis included women utilizing fertility treatment and a randomly selected 1:2 comparison group. The data was collected via three questionnaires, two of which were mailed to the participants during pregnancy and one at four months postpartum. Symptoms of depression and anxiety at four months postpartum were measured using the Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale and the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory. Secondary outcomes of parenting morale and perceived stress were also evaluated. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the population. Chi square tests and in cases of small cell sizes, Fisher Exact Tests were used to assess differences in postpartum mental health symptomatology between groups. Seventy-six participants (5.9%) conceived using a form of fertility treatment. At four months postpartum, no significant differences were observed in the proportions reporting excessive depression symptoms (2.6% vs. 5.3%, p = 0.50), anxiety (8.1% vs. 16.9%, p = 0.08) or high perceived stress scores (7.9% vs. 13.3%, p = 0.23). Women who conceived with fertility treatment were less likely to score low on parenting morale compared to women who conceived spontaneously and this was particularly evident in primiparous women (12.5% vs. 33.8%, p = 0.01). There were no group differences in proportions reporting low parenting morale in multiparous women. This study suggests that at four months postpartum, the proportion of women who experience elevated symptoms of depression, anxiety or perceived stress do not differ between mothers who conceive using fertility treatment and those who conceive spontaneously. Parenting morale at four months postpartum is significantly lower in primiparous mothers conceiving spontaneously compared to those who conceive with fertility treatment.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Reproductive Health
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    • "Symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, distractibility, and preoccupation with negative emotional states, are incompatible with effective and nurturing parenting and impinge on efforts to meet the challenging demands of caring for young children. Dysphoric affect and subsequent disruptions in social perception and communication can undermine formation of a secure attachment relationship with offspring (Lyons-Ruth et al. 2000). Low self-esteem and distorted cognitive appraisals lead to misattributions about children's behaviors and emotional states, further contributing to ineffective parenting (Bugental and Schwartz 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Research has documented the deleterious effects of maternal depression and childhood trauma on parenting and child development. There are high rates of both depression and childhood trauma in new mothers participating in home visitation programs, a prevention approach designed to optimize mother and child outcomes. Little is known about the impacts of maternal depression and childhood trauma on parenting in the context of home visitation. This study contrasted depressed and non-depressed mothers enrolled in the first year of a home visitation program on parenting stress, quality of home environment, social network, and psychiatric symptoms. Mothers were young, low income, and predominantly unmarried. Results indicated that depressed mothers displayed impairments in parenting, smaller and less robust social networks, and increased psychiatric symptoms relative to their non-depressed counterparts. Path analyses for the full sample revealed a path linking childhood trauma, depression, and parenting stress. Path analyses by group revealed several differential relationships between dimensions of social network and parenting. Number of embedded networks, namely the number of different domains in which the mother is actively interacting with others, was associated with lowered parenting stress among non-depressed mothers and increased parenting stress in their depressed counterparts with childhood trauma histories. In depressed mothers, social network size was associated with lower levels of parenting stress but decreased quality of the home environment, whereas number of embedded networks was positively related to quality of the home environment. Implications of findings for home visitation programs are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · Journal of Child and Family Studies
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