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J Abnorm Psychol. 2010 Nov;119(4):836-49. doi: 10.1037/a0021079.

Mediators of aggression among young adult offspring of depressed mothers.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA. Danikm@ucla.edu


The current article explores the connection between maternal depression and offspring aggression during the transition to adulthood, expanding the scope of prior research on this topic. Both family-level factors (including parent-child relationship quality and maternal romantic relationship quality) and youth factors (including depression history and social functioning in midadolescence) were tested as potential mediators in a longitudinal community sample of 710 youth at ages 15 and 20. The results suggest that maternal depression confers a risk for higher levels of aggressive behavior by offspring at age 20. Structural equation models suggested that the association between maternal depression and youth aggression is fully mediated by youth history of depression by midadolescence, even when accounting for the stability of aggression between ages 15 and 20. Parent-child relationship quality, youth social functioning, and maternal relationship quality were not unique mediators of this association. Limitations and implications are discussed.

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