Children’s inferential styles, 5-HTTLPR genotype, and maternal expressed emotion-criticism: An integrated model for the intergenerational transmission of depression


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

The authors tested a model for the intergenerational transmission of depression integrating specific genetic (5-HTTLPR), cognitive (inferential style), and environmental (mother depressive symptoms and expressed-emotion criticism [EE-Crit]) risk factors. Supporting the hypothesis that maternal depression is associated with elevated levels of stress in children’s lives, mothers with a history of major depressive disorder (MDD) exhibited higher depressive symptoms across a 6-month multiwave follow-up than mothers with no depression history. In addition, partially supporting our hypothesis, levels of maternal criticism during the follow-up were significantly related to mothers’ current depressive symptoms but not to history of MDD. Finally, the authors found support for an integrated Gene × Cognition × Environment model of risk. Specifically, among children with negative inferential styles regarding their self-characteristics, there was a clear dose response of 5-HTTLPR genotype moderating the relation between maternal criticism and children’s depressive symptoms, with the highest depressive symptoms during the follow-up observed among children carrying 2 copies of the 5-HTTLPR lower expressing alleles (short [S] or long [LG]) who also exhibited negative inferential styles for self-characteristics and who experienced high levels of EE-Crit. In contrast, children with positive inferential styles exhibited low depressive symptoms regardless of 5-HTTLPR genotype or level of maternal criticism.

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