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The father's role in the relation between maternal depression and youth outcomes

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It is well-established that maternal depression is significantly related to internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems and psychopathology in general. However, research suggests maternal depression does not account for all the

It is well-established that maternal depression is significantly related to internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems and psychopathology in general. However, research suggests maternal depression does not account for all the variance of these outcomes and that other family contextual factors should be investigated. The role of fathers beyond their simple presence or absence is one factor that needs to be further investigated in the context of maternal depression. The proposed study used prospective and cross-sectional analyses to examine father effects (i.e., paternal depression, alcohol use, involvement, and familism) on youth internalizing and externalizing symptoms within the context of maternal depression. The sample consisted of 405 Mexican-American families who had a student in middle school. Data were collected when the students were in 7th and 10th grade. Results from path analyses revealed that maternal depression significantly predicted concurrent youth internalizing symptoms in 7th and 10th grade and externalizing symptoms in 10th grade. In contrast, paternal depression was not related to adolescent symptomatology at either time point, nor was paternal alcoholism, and analyses failed to support moderating effects for any of the paternal variables. However, paternal involvement (father-report) uniquely predicted youth internalizing and externalizing symptoms over and above maternal depression in 7th grade. Youth report of paternal involvement uniquely predicted both internalizing and externalizing in 7th and 10th grade. Paternal familism uniquely predicted youth externalizing symptoms in 7th grade. The present findings support that maternal depression, but not paternal depression, is associated with concurrent levels of youth symptomatology in adolescence. The study did not support that fathers adjustment moderated (exacerbate or buffer) maternal depression effects. However, paternal involvement and paternal familism showed compensatory effects on youth symptomatology in concurrent analyses.

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  • 2013

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Maternal depression and stress response: the effect on offspring in emerging adulthood

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Dysregulated cortisol has been linked to a variety of adverse physical and psychological consequences. Stressors in the childhood family environment can influence cortisol activity throughout development. For example, research has

Dysregulated cortisol has been linked to a variety of adverse physical and psychological consequences. Stressors in the childhood family environment can influence cortisol activity throughout development. For example, research has shown that both infants and children of depressed mothers exhibit altered levels of cortisol compared to infants and children of non-depressed mothers. It is unclear, however, whether exposure to maternal depression in childhood and adolescence is related to cortisol activity at later stages of development. The current study examined the longitudinal relation between maternal depressive symptoms during late childhood (9-12 years old) and adolescence (15-19 years old) and cortisol activity in offspring in young adulthood (24- 28 years old) in a sample of 40 young adults and their mothers. Maternal depressive symptoms were prospectively assessed at four time points across the 15 year study. Cortisol samples were collected from young adult offspring at the final time point. Findings revealed that higher levels of maternal depressive symptoms during late childhood were associated with lower total cortisol output in young adulthood. Results suggest that attenuated cortisol levels, which put these young adults at risk for a variety of stress-related physical and psychological illnesses, may be a long-term consequence of exposure to maternal depression,. Depressive symptoms in mothers during their child's adolescence, however, did not relate to cortisol output. These findings suggest a sensitive period in late childhood during which the development of HPA activity may be susceptible to the environmental stressor of maternal depression.

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  • 2011