Marital and Parent-Child Relationships during Treatment for Adolescent Depression: Child-Driven and Bidirectional Effects

Kelsey R. Howard*, Mark A. Reinecke, John V. Lavigne, Karen R. Gouze, Neil Jordan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Adolescent depression can be a stressor for parents and families. This study evaluated how treating adolescent depression affects marital and parent-child relationships. We examined whether marital adjustment and parent-child conflict improved over the course of active treatment of depressed adolescents (36-week visit) and long-term follow-up (one year after discontinuation of treatment) in a sample of 322 clinically depressed youth participating in the Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS). We also explored the bidirectional influences of adolescent depression and family relationships. Results indicated that marital adjustment was stable during active treatment but declined during long-term follow up. A structural equation model (SEM) examining the bidirectional relation between adolescent depression and marital adjustment indicated that higher adolescent depression at the conclusion of maintenance treatment (24-week visit) predicted a deterioration of marital adjustment at the end of active treatment (36-week visit). Parent-child conflict was unchanged during treatment and follow up. SEM analyses examining the bidirectional relationship between youth depression and parent-child conflict revealed that reduced depressive symptoms at the end of the active treatment period predicted improvement in parent-child conflict at subsequent time points. These findings suggest that youth depression and its treatment may influence long-term family functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1841-1850
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume47
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2019

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Keywords

  • Adolescent depression
  • Family
  • Marital adjustment
  • Parent-child conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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