Maternal Depressive Symptoms When Caring for a Child with Mental Health Problems

Janis E. Gerkensmeyer, Susan M. Perkins, Jennifer Day, Joan K. Austin, Eric L. Scott, Jingwei Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


As primary caregivers of children with mental health problems, mothers face challenges that put them at risk for depression, which is rarely identified or addressed. The aims of this paper were to (a) identify mean differences among demographic, stressor, threat, and resource variables specified in a theoretical model and thought to be associated with maternal depressive symptoms and (b) determine how much variability in depressive symptoms is explained by these variables. High levels and prevalence of depressive symptoms were found within a quality of life study that these data were drawn from. Of 139 mothers participating in this study, 58% had a score of 16 or greater on the CES-D indicating moderate to high levels of depressive symptoms. Significant differences were found between mothers with higher versus lower levels of depressive symptoms for 11 of the 18 variables. Hierarchical regression was used to examine the variance explained in depressive symptoms based upon the conceptual model with 4 composite variables. Income (step 1), behavioral problems (step 2), threat appraisal (step 3), and resource appraisal (step 4) combined explained 42% of the variance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-695
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011


  • Child mental health problems
  • Factors related to maternal depression
  • Maternal depression
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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