About 61% of the children of parents with major depression develop a mental illness over the course of childhood and adolescence. The probability of mental illness in childhood and adolescence is elevated more than fourfold over that of the normal population (2, 8).
Infancy and early childhood
The following alterations of parental behavior affect the child during infancy and early childhood:
- Depression reduces maternal empathy and emotional availability.
- The mother’s ability to perceive the child’s signals, interpret them correctly, and respond promptly and appropriately is limited.
- Maternal eye contact, smiling, speaking, imitating, caressing, and interactive games are all reduced compared to the normal situation