Transmission of Depression Among
stress may be a risk factor for depression among the offspring
of depressed women. Hammen, Shih, and Brennan (2004) tested the
following hypotheses concerning depression among 816 Australian
15-year-olds whose mothers had been assessed for depression several
times since their pregnancies with the children: (a)
Maternal depression (and depression in the maternal grandmothers)
contributes to chronic interpersonal stress in the mothers; (b)
this stress affects the quality of the mothers' parenting and
their children's social competence; (c) poor social
functioning and interpersonal life events caused at least in part
by the children are proximal predictors of the children's depressive
symptoms. Structural equation modeling of multiple measures of
the mothers' functioning and their children's social competence
and depression (including the CBCL and YSR) indicated that "the
association between maternal and child depression was entirely
mediated by the predicted family and interpersonal stress effects"
(p. 511). Genetic factors may also contribute to the emergence
of adult depressive disorders. However, the authors suggested
"that although parental depressive episodes may be transitory,
enduring family difficulties and youth social competence may be
important targets for intervention" (p. 520).
Reference: Hammen, C., Shih, J.H., & Brennan, P.A.
(2004). Intergenerational transmission of depression: Test of
an interpersonal stress model in a community sample. Journal
of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 511-522.