Effects of child psychopathology on maternal depression: The mediating role of child-related acute and chronic stressors

  • Raposa E
  • Hammen C
  • Brennan P
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Abstract

In light of recent research highlighting the potential effects of children's behavior on mothers' mental health, the current study examined 679 mothers and their adolescent children from a community-based sample to determine the effects of youth psychopathology on maternal depression and levels of child-related stress in mothers' lives. It was hypothesized that the number of past clinical diagnoses in 15-year-old adolescents would predict the presence of maternal depression at youth age 15 and 5 years later, as well as more episodes of maternal depression during the follow-up period. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that increased levels of child-related stress in mothers' lives would mediate these relationships. Regression analyses indicated that past youth diagnoses do confer risk for the presence of current and future maternal depression, as well as more episodes of maternal depression, and mediation analyses revealed that child-related acute and chronic stress were mediators of the relationship between youth diagnoses and the presence of maternal depression at follow-up. Findings suggest that increased levels of child-related objective stress in mothers' lives are one mechanism by which children's psychopathology affects mothers' future risk for depression.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Child effects
  • Child psychopathology
  • Community sample
  • Maternal depression
  • Stress

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