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Depression in Parents, Parenting, and Children: Opportunities to Improve Identification, Treatment, and Prevention
parents because of its potential impact on parenting as well as the impact on the well-being of their children. Although there is significant and important research literature both about adults who are depressed and about parents facing adversity, there is remarkably little systematic examination of depression in parents. Ultimately depression is a good and effectively identified indicator of problems that could trigger a system of care that intervenes not only in treating depression in the parent, but also in enhancing parenting skills, in alleviating other stresses, co-occurring conditions, and social contexts, and in identifying and intervening with children at risk.
Although little research has been focused on improving care for depressed parents and their children, there are both conceptual principles and promising practices that could guide large-scale efforts in a deliberate sequential approach for family-centered care. Remarkable advances in research continue and need to be supported; it is therefore also important to build mechanisms to incorporate new findings into service settings as they become available. As with other areas in mental health and physical health, there are significant infrastructure, workforce, and fiscal problems that need to be addressed to build a system of family-centered care for depression in parents. It is the committee’s hope that this report will inspire policy makers and community leaders and practitioners to consider the value of long-term commitments to reducing parental depression and its effects on children. Only then can the knowledge base highlighted in this report be used well to promote access to appropriate services, reduce stigma, and reduce the costs of depression to adults, the children in their care, and society as a whole.