Course and severity of maternal depression: Associations with family functioning and child adjustment

Cynthia Ewell Foster, Melissa C. Webster, Myrna M. Weissman, Daniel J. Pilowsky, Priya J. Wickramaratne, A. John Rush, Carroll W. Hughes, Judy Garber, Erin Malloy, Gabrielle Cerda, Susan G. Kornstein, Jonathan E. Alpert, Stephen R. Wisniewski, Madhukar H. Trivedi, Maurizio Fava, Cheryl A. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Number of lifetime episodes, duration of current episode, and severity of maternal depression were investigated in relation to family functioning and child adjustment. Participants were the 151 mother-child pairs in the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) child multi-site study. Mothers were diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder; children (80 males and 71 females) ranged in age from 7 to 17 years. Measures of child adjustment included psychiatric diagnoses, internalizing and externalizing symptoms, and functional impairment. Measures of family functioning included family cohesion, expressiveness, conflict, organization, and household control; parenting measures assessed maternal acceptance and psychological control. Children of mothers with longer current depressive episodes were more likely to have internalizing and externalizing symptoms, with this association being moderated by child gender. Mothers with more lifetime depressive episodes were less likely to use appropriate control in their homes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)906-916
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Child adjustment
  • Family functioning
  • Gender
  • Maternal depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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