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The effects of psychological treatment of maternal depression on children and parental functioning: a meta-analysis

Abstract

Successful treatment of parental depression may have a positive effect on the functioning and psychopathology of their children. We conducted a meta-analysis to examine the effects of psychotherapy for depressed mothers on their children and parental functioning. We used a database of randomized controlled trials examining the effects of psychotherapy for adult depression and selected trials comparing psychotherapy and control conditions in depressed mothers and reporting outcomes in their children and parental functioning. Nine studies were included. The quality of these studies was not optimal and the outcome instruments differed considerably from each other. The therapies resulted in significantly decreased levels of depression (g = 0.66) in the mothers. In the seven studies that reported outcomes on the mental health of children, a significant effect size was also found (g = 0.40). The eight studies examining mother–child interactions resulted in a significant effect size of g = 0.35, and the five studies examining parenting/marital distress had a pooled effect size of g = 0.67. We found that psychotherapy leads to decreased levels of depression in depressed mothers and also found indications that psychotherapy may have a positive effect on the mental health of their children and parenting/marital distress. However, more high-quality research is needed before a definite answer can be given.

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Cuijpers, P., Weitz, E., Karyotaki, E. et al. The effects of psychological treatment of maternal depression on children and parental functioning: a meta-analysis. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 24, 237–245 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-014-0660-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-014-0660-6

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Parental depression
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychological treatment
  • Meta-analysis