[Depressed mothers: the impact of depression on early interactions. An analysis of Anglo-Saxon studies]

Ann Pediatr (Paris). 1993 Oct;40(8):496-502.
[Article in French]


Maternal depression remains a public health problem as indicated by many studies focusing on depression in mothers of young children. Although the high prevalence of depression in mothers of infants and young children is now a recognized fact, the detection and management of maternal depression in everyday practice still raises significant problems. This initial review centers on studies providing diagnostic guidelines. The problem of maternal depression and of its impact on the offspring is relevant to the issue of how qualities, abilities, and vulnerabilities are transmitted from one generation to the next. Psychoanalysts, infant psychiatrists, and developmental psychologists show great interest in this field. The current review was restricted to recent Anglo-Saxon studies on depression-related changes in early maternal behavior. The most striking findings are as follows: although depression affects maternal behavior overall, there is considerable variation across mothers; timing alterations (in terms of micro and macro sequences) in mother-child interactions occur in every case and are among the obstacles to harmony and synchronization; subtle alterations in the mother's response to her baby's signals preclude flexibility and anticipation.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Depression / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Maternal Behavior*
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Puerperal Disorders / psychology