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Keywords:

  • Longitudinal study;
  • maternal depression;
  • adolescent depression;
  • social disadvantage;
  • marital discord;
  • family life events

Abstract The relationship between maternal depressive symptoms and rates of adolescent (15–16 years) depressive symptoms was studied in a birth cohort of 934 New Zealand children. There was a clear correlation between maternal depressive symptoms and subsequent depressive symptoms in adolescent females (r= .44) but no association (r= -.01) between maternal depressive symptoms and depressive symptoms in adolescent males. Subsequent analysis suggested that the correlation between maternal depression and depressive symptoms in adolescent females was largely explained by the associations of both measures with a series of social and contextual factors including social disadvantage, marital discord and family adversity. It is concluded that maternal depression is only associated with depression in adolescence insofar as maternal depression is associated /with social disadvantage, marital discord or family adversity.