, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 810-821
Date: 25 Jul 2006

Gender Differences in the Association between Maternal Depressed Mood and Child Depressive Phenomena from Grade 3 through Grade 10

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Abstract

This study reports on relationships among gender, maternal depressed mood, and children’s trajectories of depressive phenomena across middle childhood and early adolescence. It tested the hypothesis that, compared to boys, girls become increasingly vulnerable to maternal depression as they enter adolescence. The study sample consisted of 834 families from 10 Pacific Northwest schools that participated in the Raising Healthy Children project. Maternal depressed mood and children’s depressive phenomena were assessed annually during an 8-year period that spanned Grade 3 through Grade 10 for the children. Mean scores for girls’ depressive phenomena increased relative to those for boys as children matured. Maternal depressed mood was significantly and positively associated with children’s level of depressive phenomena. An interaction effect of gender and maternal depressed mood on acceleration in children’s depressive phenomena indicated that girls’ trajectories of depressive phenomena were sustained in the presence of maternal depression while those of boys declined in the presence of maternal depression.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Society for Research on Adolescence annual meeting, March 11–14, 2004 in Baltimore, MD.
investigator with the Raising Healthy Children project, Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington, on a minority supplement awarded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Her research interests include the social-emotional development of young children and mental health outcomes in children and adolescents.
research analyst for the Raising Healthy Children project, Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington. Mr. Fleming’s interests include prevention science and the etiology of adolescent problem behavior.
Professor and the Director of the Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington. Dr. Catalano is the principal investigator on a number of federal grants, which include family, school, and community-based prevention approaches to reduce risk while enhancing the protective factors of bonding and promotion of healthy beliefs and clear standards.
research analyst with the Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington. Dr. Brown is currently investigating the efficacy of the Raising Healthy Children intervention. His research interest is in the development of longitudinal methods as they apply to adolescent substance use, mental health, and well-being.