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16-03-2021 | Uitgave 8/2021

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology 8/2021

Maternal Depression History Moderates the Association Between Criticism (but not Praise) and Depressive Symptoms in Youth

Tijdschrift:
Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 8/2021
Auteurs:
Reuma Gadassi-Polack, Julia Chertkof, Hedy Kober, Jutta Joormann
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Supplementary Information

The online version contains supplementary material available at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10802-021-00803-2.
Hedy Kober and Jutta Joormann have contributed equally to this work.

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Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Abstract

Children of mothers with past depression are at increased risk for developing the disorder themselves; however, the specific factors that increase their risk are unclear. Aberrant reactivity to social experiences may be one characteristic that increases risk for depression in offspring. This study investigates whether mothers’ depression history is associated with increased reactivity to criticism and decreased reactivity to praise in offspring by examining 72 youths (ages 8–15). Every evening for 21 days, youths reported their depressive symptoms and whether they were criticized and/or praised by their mothers, fathers, siblings, and friends, resulting in 1,382 data entries across participants. Mothers reported their own depression history and current depressive symptoms. Maternal depression history moderated offspring’s response to criticism. Although all youths reacted to perceived criticism from family members with transient increases of depressive symptoms, only children of mothers with higher (vs. lower) levels of past depression exhibited cumulative, person-level associations between perceived criticism and their own depressive symptoms. Additionally, only children of depressed mothers exhibited increases in depressive symptoms on days in which they were criticized by friends. Perceived parental praise was associated with lower levels of depression in youths regardless of maternal depression. Youth depressive symptoms were more strongly related to their parents’ (vs. siblings or friends) criticism and praise, highlighting parents’ more central role in youth depression risk. Taken together, our results reveal that maternal depression history is associated with increased reactivity to perceived criticism across relational contexts potentially contributing to youths’ risk for developing depression.

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