Remission of Depression in Parents: Links to Healthy Functioning in Their Children


  • This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01MH57822, R01MH57834, R01MH057977). Garber was supported in part by an Independent Scientist Award (K02 MH66249) during completion of this work. We would like to thank the parents and children who participated in this study. We also would like to acknowledge Steven Hollon, Robert DeRubeis, Richard Shelton, Jay Amsterdam, Sona Dimidjian, Neil Jacobson, Laurel Duncan, Margaret Lovett, Cynthia Flynn, Russell Hanford, Virginia Burks, Tory Creed, and Editha Nottelmann for their support of this project.

concerning this article should be addressed to Judy Garber, Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University, 552 Peabody, 230 Appleton Place, Nashville, TN 37203-5721. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study examined whether improvement in parents’ depression was linked with changes in their children’s depressive symptoms and functioning. Participants were 223 parents and children ranging in age from 7 to 17 years old (= 12.13, SD = 2.31); 126 parents were in treatment for depression and 97 parents were nondepressed. Children were evaluated 6 times over 2 years. Changes in parents’ depressive symptoms predicted changes in children’s depressive symptoms over and above the effect of time; children’s symptoms significantly predicted parents’ symptoms. Trajectories of children’s depressive symptoms differed significantly for children of remitted versus nonremitted depressed parents, and these differences were significantly predicted by their parents’ level of depression. The relation between parents’ and children’s depressive symptoms was partially mediated by parental acceptance.