Longitudinal relationship between maternal distress and pediatric mood symptoms in youth with mood disorders. Journal of psychiatric research Weintraub, M. J., Schneck, C. D., Singh, M. K., Walshaw, P. D., Chang, K. D., Sullivan, A. E., Miklowitz, D. J. 2021; 144: 353-359


Parents of a child with a mood disorder report significant levels of distress and burden from caregiving. This study examined whether maternal distress varies over time with levels of mood symptoms in youth with mood disorders, and whether expressed emotion (EE) and family functioning moderate these associations. We recruited youth (ages 9-17 years) with mood disorders and familial risk for bipolar disorder (BD) for a randomized trial of family-focused therapy compared to standard psychoeducation. Participants were assessed every 4-6 months for up to 4 years. Using repeated-measures mixed effects modeling, we examined the longitudinal effects of youths' mood symptoms and maternal distress concurrently, as well as whether each variable predicted the other in successive study intervals. Secondary analyses examined the moderating effects of EE and ratings of family cohesion and adaptability on maternal distress. In sample of 118 youth-mother dyads, levels of self-reported parental distress decreased over time, with no differences between treatment conditions. Youths' depressive symptoms and, most strongly, mood lability were associated with greater maternal distress longitudinally; however, maternal distress did not predict youths' mood symptoms or lability. The effect of youth symptoms on maternal distress was greater among mothers who were high EE. Family cohesion was associated with reduced concurrent ratings of maternal distress, whereas family adaptability was associated with reduced maternal distress at successive follow-ups. While maternal distress decreases over time as youths' symptoms decrease, mothers of youth with mood disorders experience significant distress that is directly linked to the youths' depressive symptom severity and lability. Improved family functioning appears to be an important mechanism by which to intervene.

View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.10.041

View details for PubMedID 34735839