Original Contribution

Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 251-259

First online:

Effect of maternal panic disorder on mother–child interaction and relation to child anxiety and child self-efficacy

  • Silvia SchneiderAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, University of Basel Email author 
  • , Jiske E. G. HouwelingAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, University of Basel
  • , Susan Gommlich-SchneiderAffiliated withTechnische Universität Dresden
  • , Cordelia KleinAffiliated withTechnische Universität Dresden
  • , Birgit NündelAffiliated withTechnische Universität Dresden
  • , Dieter WolkeAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Warwick

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To determine whether mothers with panic disorder with or without agoraphobia interacted differently with their children than normal control mothers, 86 mothers and their adolescents (aged between 13 and 23 years) were observed during a structured play situation. Maternal as well as adolescent anxiety status was assessed according to a structured diagnostic interview. Results showed that mothers with panic disorder/agoraphobia showed more verbal control, were more criticizing and less sensitive during mother–child interaction than mothers without current mental disorders. Moreover, more conflicts were observed between mother and child dyadic interactions when the mother suffered from panic disorder. The comparison of parenting behaviors among anxious and non-anxious children did not reveal any significant differences. These findings support an association between parental over-control and rejection and maternal but not child anxiety and suggest that particularly mother anxiety status is an important determinant of parenting behavior. Finally, an association was found between children’s perceived self-efficacy, parental control and child anxiety symptoms.


Maternal panic disorder Mother–child interaction Parenting Child anxiety Perceived self-efficacy