Article

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

ABSTRACT

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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    • "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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    • "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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