A Review of the Risk and Psychopathological Outcomes in Children of Depressed Mothers Children Are Adversely Affected by Maternal Depression

A Review of the Risk and Psychopathological Outcomes in Children of Depressed Mothers
Children are adversely affected by maternal depression (Goodman & Gotlib, 1999). Negative effects of maternal depression have been documented in children ranging in age from infancy through adolescence. For example, compared with offspring of nondepressed controls, infants of depressed mothers have been found to be more fussy, to obtain lower scores on measures of mental and motor development, and to have more difficult temperaments and less secure attachments to their mothers. Toddlers of depressed mothers have been found to react more negatively to stress and to be delayed in their acquisition of effective self-regulation strategies. Finally, relative to control children, school-aged children and adolescents whose mothers are depressed have been found to have more school problems, to be less socially competent, and to have lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of behavior problems (Goodman & Gotlib, 1999).
In their review of prior research, Goodman & Gotlib (1999) formulated an integrative model to understand the transmission of risk to children of depressed mothers. In this model they identify the risks, mechanisms, vulnerabilities and mental health outcomes of children and adolescents of depressed mothers. The mechanisms of risk that they implicate, through past research, are genetic predispositions inherited by the offspring, innate dysfunctional neurobiological mechanisms, exposure to the mother’s maladaptive cognitions, behaviors and affect, and exposure to a stressful environment. They further postulate that research has shown us that these mechanisms are responsible for vulnerabilities such as psychobiological dysfunction, Cognitive deficits, affective deficits, and behavioral or interpersonal deficits. These vulnerabilities in turn lead to psychopathological outcomes in the children and adolescents in the form of depression and other disorders. The...