Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 1069–1081 | Cite as

Dynamic Associations between Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Adolescents’ Depressive and Externalizing Symptoms

  • Chrystyna D. Kouros
  • Judy Garber


The current prospective study investigated transactional relations between maternal depressive symptoms and children’s depressive and externalizing symptoms. Participants included 240 children (M age = 11.86 years, SD = 0.56; 53.9% female) and their mothers who were part of a 6-year longitudinal study. Measures of maternal depression (Beck Depression Inventory), child depression (Children’s Depression Inventory), and children’s externalizing symptoms (Youth Self-Report Form) were assessed annually. Data analyses using dynamic latent difference score structural equation models indicated that the observed relations between mothers’ and adolescents’ symptoms were stable across the 6 years. Higher levels of maternal depressive symptoms predicted subsequent elevations in children’s depressive symptoms and in their externalizing problems over time. Among mothers with high initial levels of depression, children’s depressive symptoms predicted subsequent declines in mothers’ depressive symptoms. Children’s externalizing problems were not related to subsequent change in maternal symptoms.


Adolescents Depressive symptoms Externalizing behavior Latent difference score models Maternal depression 



This work was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (R29 MH454580; K02 MH66249), NICHD Grant P30HD15052, and a Faculty Scholar Award (1214-88) and grant (173096) from the William T. Grant Foundation. Chrystyna D. Kouros was supported in part from an NIMH training grant (T32-MH18921) during preparation of this manuscript. We appreciate the cooperation of the Nashville Metropolitan School District, Drs. Binkley and Crouch, and we especially thank the parents and children who participated in the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Human DevelopmentNashvilleUSA

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