What research suggests for depressed women with children

J Clin Psychiatry. 2002 Jul;63(7):641-7. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v63n0717.


Background: The strong association between maternal and offspring depression has been observed in numerous studies. Understanding this association has implications for early intervention and prevention.

Method: Findings from our community-based epidemiologic studies and high-risk and longitudinal studies of families with depression are reviewed.

Results and conclusions: The childbearing years are the high-risk period for major depression in women. The offspring of depressed women are at high risk for depression. The risk begins before puberty in the offspring and is transmitted to the grandchildren. Depression that begins in childhood or adolescence is continuous and is associated with considerable morbidity. Despite the availability of efficacious treatment, the majority of depressed adults and children remain untreated. Without a clear commitment to mental health parity and an effective service system for intervention, little progress will occur in improving the treatment of depression. There are numerous opportunities for research on the etiology, treatment, and prevention of depression in mothers and their children.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology
  • Child of Impaired Parents / statistics & numerical data*
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility / standards
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Research Design
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors