Maternal depression and parenting behavior: a meta-analytic review

Clin Psychol Rev. 2000 Aug;20(5):561-92. doi: 10.1016/s0272-7358(98)00100-7.


The results of 46 observational studies were analyzed to assess the strength of the association between depression and parenting behavior and to identify variables that moderated the effects. The association between depression and parenting was manifest most strongly for negative maternal behavior and was evident to a somewhat lesser degree in disengagement from the child. The association between depression and positive maternal behavior was relatively weak, albeit significant. Effects for negative maternal behavior were moderated by timing of the depression: Current depression was associated with the largest effects. However, residual effects of prior depression were apparent for all behaviors. Socioeconomic status, child age, and methodological variables moderated the effects for positive behavior: Effects were strongest for studies of disadvantaged women and mothers of infants. Studies using diagnostic interviews and self-report measures yielded similar effects, suggesting that deficits are not specific to depressive disorder. Research is needed to identify factors that affect the magnitude of parenting deficits among women who are experiencing depression and other psychological difficulties.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology*