Enviornmental Effects on the Intergenerational Transmission of Depression in Children
Depression in children and adolescents is complex and can be attributed to multiple factors. While it has been established that maternal depression at home can be an important predictor of child depression, the impact of children's social lives outside the home on the transmission of depression has not been evaluated. The present study used behavioral data from 164 children and their mothers in Austin, TX to assess the relation between maternal depression, child social competence with peers, and child depression. Data were analyzed using main effects and interaction regression models to determine if maternal depression and child sociability predicted child depression either alone or in interaction with one another. Exploratory analyses also examined relations across these factors. While regression results were non-significant, exploratory analyses showed that maternal depression was significantly correlated with increased social problems in children and tended to be associated with fewer close friends and less social time. Child depression was also associated with a better ability to work alone. These results have important implications for how future depression treatments might target specific aspects of children's sociability to potentially counterbalance the effects of maternal depression at home.