Article

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 559-572

Cognitive vulnerability in children at risk for depression

  • Carol JaenickeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California
  • , Constance HammenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California
  • , Brian ZupanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California
  • , Donald HirotoAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California
  • , David GordonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California
  • , Cheri AdrianAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California
  • , Dorli BurgeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of California

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Abstract

Cognitive, developmental, and psychodynamic theories all hypothesize that negative self-concepts acquired in childhood may induce vulnerability to depression. Children at risk because of maternal major affective disorder, compared with children of medically ill and normal mothers, were examined for evidence of negative cognitions about themselves, and were found to have more negative self-concept, less positive self-schemas, and more negative attributional style. It was further predicted that negative cognitions about the self would be related to maternal depression and chronic stress, and to the quality of perceived and actual interactions with the mother. In general, the predicted associations were obtained, supporting speculations about how maternal affective disorder is associated with stress and with relatively negative and unsupportive relationships with children that in turn diminish children's self-regard.