derstanding of the parent’s illness at both the fourth and sixth assessment points. Young people whose parents changed the most in response to the intervention had increased the most in understanding their parents’ illness. Thus, it was possible to increase understanding through preventive intervention. Others note variability in adolescent children’s coping with maternal depression (Klimes-Dougan and Bolger, 1998). For example, children whose mothers’ depression is associated with more anger and irritability cope differently than others, boys differ from girls, and, even within families, siblings differ in how they cope with the mother’s depression.
Beginning with studies of infants, researchers have identified problems in interpersonal functioning associated with depression in mothers. Field (1992) has shown that infants (1) match the negative affective expressions of their mothers when in face-to-face interaction with them, (2) look “depressed,” and (3) generalize these styles to the infants’ interactions with others. She has also found that infants of depressed mothers whose interaction style is characterized as withdrawn have poorer interactive qualities than those whose style is characterized as intrusive (Jones et al., 1997b). In multiple publications since the early 1980s, Tronick and Cohn have illuminated the nature of infants’ responses to face-to-face interaction with mothers who are depressed (Cohn and Tronick, 1983; Cohn et al., 1986). Among their more recent papers, they show that higher symptom levels in mothers and the infants’ being male contributed to lower quality mother-infant interactions (Weinberg et al., 2006).
Murray has studied infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children interacting with their depressed mothers. Although some of the studies controlled for other variables, such as conflict in the home, she found that the depression in mothers still accounted for the children’s quality of interaction (Murray and Trevarthen, 1986; Murray et al., 1996b, 1999).
Studies of young children interacting with their depressed mothers, best illustrated by the work of Radke-Yarrow and colleagues, revealed that children whose mothers have been depressed engage in excessive compliance, excessive anxiety, and disruptive behavior that, when the children were followed into adolescence, were found to persist over time (Radke-Yarrow, 1998).
Among the few studies of peer interactions, sons but not daughters of depressed mothers were found to display more aggressive behavior during interactions with friends (Hipwell et al., 2005). Kindergarten-age children whose mothers were depressed were more often excluded by peers (Cummings, Keller, and Davies, 2005). The latter effect was mediated by the children’s exposure to interparental conflict. Adolescent children of