The proposed project will study the impact of treating parental depression on children's socio-emotional adjustment. This project will interface with two newly funded NIMH treatment studies of adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder. The first is a two-site study being conducted at Vanderbilt University (PI, Steve Hollon, Ph.D.) and at the University of Pennsylvania (PI, Rob DeRubeis, Ph.D.). The second study will be at the University of Washington (PI, Neil Jacobson, Ph.D.). Across the three sites, 640 adults will receive cognitive therapy, pharmacotherapy, or placebo (plus a behavioral cell at UW). Based on preliminary data collected in the last four months, we estimate that about 25% of the patients will have children between 8 and 16 years old and will agree to participate. These preliminary data provide evidence of the feasibility and acceptability of the project, and showed that the targeted children of currently depressed parents were experiencing significant levels of symptoms and dysfunction. The proposed project will involve a comprehensive assessment of an index child with regard to psychopathology and functioning at the time the parent enters the treatment study and again at 2,4,8,12,18, and 24 months. A comparison group of children whose parents are lifetime-free of psychiatric and medical disorders also will be included. The primary aims of the study are: (a) to examine the relation between decreases in parent's depression and changes in children's functioning;(b) to explore possible mediators of these changes including the parent-child relationship, marital functioning, stressors, and cognitions; and (c) to test whether changes in child adaptation, the hypothesized mediators, and the relation between parent and child symptoms differ as a function of the type of treatment the parent received. Data analysis will involve traditional methods of repeated measures multivariate analyses of variance and a more general and innovative approach of individual growth curve modeling using covariance structure analysis. This study represents a truly unique opportunity to further our theoretical understanding of the link between parent and child psychopathology that can serve as a guide for the development of preventive interventions for high risk populations.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Child/Adolescent Risk and Prevention Review Committee (CAPR)
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Nottelmann, Editha
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Seattle Children's Hospital
United States
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Evans, Lindsay D; Kouros, Chrystyna; Frankel, Sarah A et al. (2015) Longitudinal relations between stress and depressive symptoms in youth: coping as a mediator. J Abnorm Child Psychol 43:355-68
Garber, Judy; Ciesla, Jeff A; McCauley, Elizabeth et al. (2011) Remission of depression in parents: links to healthy functioning in their children. Child Dev 82:226-43