Maternal Depressive Symptoms in Pediatric Major Depressive Disorder: Relationship to Acute Treatment Outcome

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In the present study, we assess maternal depressive symptoms at the beginning and end of treatment to investigate the possible reciprocal relationship of maternal illness with the child's depressive illness and treatment.


We present data on 146 children and their mothers who were participating in a pediatric acute treatment study of fluoxetine. Patients were assessed with the Children's Depression Rating Scale-Revised at baseline and at each treatment visit. Mothers completed the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self Report at baseline and end of acute treatment.


Thirty percent of mothers had moderate to severe levels of depressive symptoms at the child's baseline assessment. Overall, mothers reported improvement in maternal depressive symptoms at the end of their child's acute treatment, although maternal depression was not specifically targeted for intervention. Furthermore, mother's depressive symptoms appear to be associated with the child's depression severity both at the beginning and end of treatment. Mothers with higher levels of depressive symptoms had children with higher levels of depression severity at baseline and over the course of treatment. However, maternal depressive symptoms at baseline had no association with the rate of improvement of child depression severity.


This study indicates a positive relationship between the depression severity of mothers and their children. These findings highlight potential areas of intervention in the acute treatment of childhood depression.

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