Maternal Depression in the United States: Nationally Representative Rates and Risks

Department of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue,Boston, MA 02116, USA.
Journal of Women's Health (Impact Factor: 2.05). 08/2011; 20(11):1609-17. DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2657
Source: PubMed


To examine the public health burden of major depressive disorder (MDD) among mothers: its prevalence and sociodemographic patterns; associated functioning, comorbidities, and adversities; and racial/ethnic disparities.
This was a cross-sectional analysis of 8916 mothers in the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions, a nationally representative survey of the civilian U.S. population in 2001?2002. Past-year MDD was assessed with a structured interview protocol.
Ten percent of mothers experienced depression in the past year. White and Native American women, those with low education or income, and those not married had high rates of depression. Depression was not strongly patterned by number of or age of children. Depressed mothers experienced more adversities (poverty, separation or divorce, unemployment, financial difficulties) and had worse functioning. Half of depressed mothers received services for their depression. Black and Hispanic depressed mothers were more likely to experience multiple adversities and less likely to receive services than white depressed mothers.
Maternal depression is a major public health problem in the United States, with an estimated 1 in 10 children experiencing a depressed mother in any given year. Professionals who work with mothers and children should be aware of its prevalence and its detrimental effects.

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    • "Maternal depression is associated with a host of negative child outcomes . Findings across clinical and community longitudinal studies show that children of depressed mothers are much more likely to experience depression and/ or to become addicted to substances than children of non-psychiatrically ill parents (Campbell, Morgan-Lopez, Cox, & McLoyd, 2009; Cummings & Davies, 1994; Downey & Coyne, 1990; Ertel et al., 2011; Goodman, 2007; Goodman & Gotlib, 1999; Hammen & Brennan, 2003; Herman-Stahl et al., 2008; Weissman, Warner, Wickramaratne , Moreau, & Olfson, 1997; Weissman et al., 2006). Girls appear especially sensitive to the influence of maternal depression (Davies & Windle, 1997), more often developing psychiatric disorders than boys as a result. "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to explore the influence of maternal depressive symptoms on adolescent alcohol use among a sample of Latino/Latina youth aged 10 to 16 years from a high-risk community. Direct and mediating effects of youth depressive symptoms, controlling for levels of concurrent emotion dysregulation, on alcohol use were examined. Participants consisted of 525 children and their mothers randomly sampled from low-income schools with high rates of substance use. The panel design included four waves, and we used structural equation modeling with a longitudinal mediational framework. Results indicated that the relationship between maternal depressive symptoms and adolescent alcohol use was mediated by adolescents’ symptoms of depression for girls only. Findings are discussed in the context of the development of skills to cope with negative affect and the influence parental depressive symptoms may have on this process.
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    • "This hypothesis, however, has not been empirically tested. Across the US, approximately 10 % of mothers experience depression each year (Ertel et al. 2011), which can undermine the home environment and exert large, enduring , and pervasive impacts on children's functioning and adjustment (Goodman and Gotlib 1999). Consider the extant literature which reveals that children of depressed mothers are more likely to have insecure attachment, poor emotional regulation, poor cognitive and language functioning , elevated rates of academic failure, heightened levels of internalizing and externalizing problems, and less optimal social competence and peer relationships (Cicchetti et al. 1998; Cummings and Davis 1994; Zahn- Waxler et al. 1990). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined whether a warm and positive classroom emotional climate would buffer the detrimental effects of maternal depression on children’s cognitive and socioemotional adjustment at first grade. Based on 1364 dyads, four waves of data spanning 6 months to first grade were used to examine paths between mothers’ early cumulative depressive symptoms and five first-grade outcomes (internalizing and externalizing behavior problems, social competence, academic functioning, and relationship with teachers). Classroom emotional climate was observed at first grade. Multiple group modeling revealed that children who were placed in a classroom that was characterized by a warm and positive emotional climate were shown to be less severely, or not, affected by mothers’ depressive symptoms in terms of the development of externalizing problems, social skills, cognitive performance, and relational functioning. Guided by the bioecological perspective, the current study showed synergic effects of intra-familial and extra-familial elements on an array of children’s developmental outcomes over time.
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    • "This is further increased by selective attrition among socially disadvantaged women. As it is likely that this group has a higher proportion of maternal depression (Ertel et al. 2011), our results are plausibly an under-rather than an over-estimate of the relationship between socioeconomic predictors and maternal depression trajectories. Replication of our findings in a population including a higher proportion of disadvantaged, high-risk families is warranted. "
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    ABSTRACT: Maternal depression in the pre- and postpartum period may set women on a course of chronic depressive symptoms. Little is known about predictors of persistently elevated depressive symptoms in mothers from pregnancy onwards. The aims of this study are to determine maternal depression trajectories from pregnancy to the child's fifth birthday and identify associated risk factors. Mothers (N = 1807) from the EDEN mother-child birth cohort study based in France (2003-2011) were followed from 24-28 weeks of pregnancy to their child's fifth birthday. Maternal depression trajectories were determined with a semi-parametric group-based modelling strategy. Sociodemographic, psychosocial and psychiatric predictors were explored for their association with trajectory class membership. Five trajectories of maternal symptoms of depression from pregnancy onwards were identified: no symptoms (60.2%); persistent intermediate-level depressive symptoms (25.2%); persistent high depressive symptoms (5.0%); high symptoms in pregnancy only (4.7%); high symptoms in the child's preschool period only (4.9%). Socio-demographic predictors associated with persistent depression were non-French origin; psychosocial predictors were childhood adversities, life events during pregnancy and work overinvestment; psychiatric predictors were previous mental health problems, psychological help, and high anxiety during pregnancy. Persistent depression in mothers of young children is associated to several risk factors present prior to or during pregnancy, notably anxiety. These characteristics precede depression trajectories and offer a possible entry point to enhance mother's mental health and reduce its burden on children.
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