Depression literacy and stigma influence how parents perceive and respond to adolescent depressive symptoms

J Affect Disord. 2018 Dec 1:241:599-607. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.08.062. Epub 2018 Aug 15.


Background: This study aimed to: (1) validate a measure of parental reactions, attitudes and understanding of adolescent depressive symptoms (PRAUD) and (2) examine the impact of adolescent and parent depressive symptoms, parental knowledge about adolescent depression (depression literacy), and parental depression stigma on parental responses to adolescent depression.

Method: Parents (N = 440) of adolescents aged 13-17 years completed an anonymous online questionnaire.

Results: Factor analysis suggested four patterns of parental responses to adolescent depressive symptoms: overprotection, criticism, distress and support. Internal consistency was good for all PRAUD subscales (α = 0.80-0.88). Higher parent and adolescent depressive symptoms, greater depression stigma and lower depression literacy were associated with more negative parental responses. Higher adolescent depressive symptoms and poorer parent depression literacy predicted overprotective responses, and depression stigma moderated the effect of parent depressive symptoms. Depression literacy moderated the effect of parent depression on supportive parental responses, and stigma moderated the effect of adolescent depression. Higher levels of depression stigma and parent depression predicted critical responses, and depression literacy moderated the effect of adolescent depressive symptoms. Distress responses were predicted by higher stigma, and depression literacy moderated the effect of parent and adolescent depressive symptoms.

Limitations: Differences between the two sample recruitment sites.

Conclusions: There was evidence of more negative parental attitudes and responses among depressed parents and parents of depressed youth. Improving parental depression literacy and reducing depression stigma during treatment of adolescent depression may facilitate parental responsiveness, and in some circumstances, may help buffer against the negative impact of parental depression.

Keywords: Adolescent; Depression; Mental health literacy; Parenting; Stigma; Youth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Attitude
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents
  • Social Stigma*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult