Maternal depression

Relations with maternal caregiving representations and emotional availability during the preschool years

Tania Trapolini, Judy Ungerer, Catherine McMahon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This longitudinal study aimed to determine whether maternal depression was related to caregiving behavior and further whether this relationship was mediated and/or moderated by maternal caregiving representations. Ninety-two mothers were assessed for symptoms of depression when their children were 4, 12, and 15 months, and later at 4 years of age. At 4 years of age, mothers' caregiving representations of their child and their relationship were examined using the Parent Development Interview (PDI), and aspects of maternal behaviors were rated during mother-child play interactions using the Emotional Availability Scales (EA). The experience of chronic maternal depression was related to lower levels of maternal sensitivity, and this association was mediated by mothers' impaired capacity to take their child's perspective. The link between depression and lower maternal sensitivity was also moderated by perspective taking, indicating that poor perspective taking had a negative impact on sensitivity only for chronically depressed mothers. In conclusion, the current study demonstrated that mothers' representational models are affected by cognitive distortions associated with depression, and these distortions interfere with a mother's capacity to interact sensitively with her child.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-90
Number of pages18
JournalAttachment and Human Development
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2008

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