Relations Among Family Context, Depression, and Gender in Offspring of Depressed and Nondepressed Parents
Frankel, Sarah Anne
Offspring of depressed parents are at increased risk for depression, compared to children of non-depressed parents (Hammen & Brennan, 2003). In addition, parental depression is associated with disruptions in family context (e.g. Cummings, Keller, & Davies, 2005; Lovejoy, Graczyk, O’Hare & Neuman, 2000; Park, Garber, Ciesla & Ellis, 2008). Examining parent gender, child gender, and their interaction may be important for understanding the connection between parental and child depression (Hops, 1995). The current study examined the extent to which the relations among parental depression, family context and children’s depressive symptoms varied as a function of parent and child gender. 226 parent-child dyads completed measures of parental depression, family context and children’s depression. 129 of the parents (“high-risk”) were receiving treatment for depression. Linear regression analyses were conducted to test the relations of risk, parent gender, child gender, and the two- and three-way interactions to the dependent variables measuring family context. Another series of linear regression analyses was conducted examining the relations of risk, parent gender, child gender, the family variables, and all two-, three- and four-way interactions to children’s depressive symptoms. Results showed that parental depression is associated with disruptions in the marital relationship, parent-child relationship, and family environment, and that these difficulties also are linked with increased depressive symptoms in children. The strength of these connections varied by child gender, parent gender, and the interaction of the two, with depression linked more strongly to certain aspects of the family context in same-sex parent-child dyads, and others in opposite-sex dyads.