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Modification of levels of depression in mother-bereaved women by parental and marital relationships

  • Gordon Parker (a1) and Dusan Hadzi-Pavlovic (a1)


A sample of 79 young women whose mothers had died in the subjects' childhood, and whose fathers had remarried, was studied to determine any effects on state and trait depression associated with modification of high and low risk parental style. Lack of care from fathers and lack of care from step-mothers were the parental variables most strongly associated with high trait depression, and almost all subjects scoring both these parents as uncaring affirmed a distinct life-time episode of depression. In a married sub-group of 63 subjects, low marital affection and low step-mother care accounted for 33% of the variance in trait depression scores, while low paternal care was no longer a significant predictor. Data for the married sub-group suggested that an affectionate husband largely corrected any diathesis to greater depression exerted by uncaring parenting, while the protective effects of caring parenting on adult depressive experience were largely undone by marriage to an unaffectionate husband.


Corresponding author

1 Address for correspondence: Professor Gordon Parker School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Little Bay, 2036, Sydney, Australia.


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Psychological Medicine
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