The impact of maternal depression on adolescent adjustment: the role of expressed emotion.

Research paper by Denise R DR Nelson, Constance C Hammen, Patricia A PA Brennan, Jodie B JB Ullman

Indexed on: 01 Oct '03Published on: 01 Oct '03Published in: Journal of consulting and clinical psychology


The present study evaluated the role of expressed emotion (EE) as a predictor of child symptomatology and functional impairment in a sample of nearly 800 adolescent children of mothers with varying histories of depression or who were nondepressed. Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypothesized associations in half of the sample, and all models were cross-validated on the other half of the study sample. Results indicated that EE criticism and degree of maternal depression both had independent predictive associations with youths' externalizing symptoms and functional impairment. In addition, high EE criticism served as an intervening variable between maternal depression and child functioning (externalizing symptoms and functional impairment). Results are discussed in terms of the mutual effects of depressed mothers and dysfunctional youths on each other.