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Depression and Anxiety Symptoms of British Adoptive Parents: A Prospective Four-Wave Longitudinal Study


Depression and Anxiety Symptoms of British Adoptive Parents: A Prospective Four-Wave Longitudinal Study

Rebecca E Anthony et al. Int J Environ Res Public Health.


The mental health of birth parents has gained attention due to the serious negative consequences for personal, family, and child outcomes, but depression and anxiety in adoptive parents remains under-recognized. Using a prospective, longitudinal design, we investigated anxiety and depression symptoms in 96 British adoptive parents over four time points in the first four years of an adoptive placement. Depression and anxiety symptom scores were relatively stable across time. Growth curve analysis showed that higher child internalizing scores and lower parental sense of competency at five months post-placement were associated with higher initial levels of parental depressive symptoms. Lower parental sense of competency was also associated with higher initial levels of parental anxiety symptoms. Parents of older children and those with higher levels of parental anxiety and sense of competency at five months post-placement had a steeper decrease in depressive symptoms over time. Support for adoptive families primarily focuses on child adjustment. Our findings suggest that professional awareness of parental mental health post-placement may be necessary, and interventions aimed at improving parents' sense of competency may be beneficial.

Keywords: adoption; child psychopathology; parent competency; parent mental health.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest. The funders had no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to publish the results.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Depression (left) and anxiety (right) symptoms sample means, estimated unconditional model means and conditional model means.

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