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Depression Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 313689, 11 pages
Review Article

Pathways to Prevention for Children of Depressed Mothers: A Review of the Literature and Recommendations for Practice

Division of Social Work, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 6830, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA

Received 20 July 2011; Revised 7 October 2011; Accepted 24 October 2011

Academic Editor: Alexandra Delini-Stula

Copyright © 2012 Carrie W. Rishel. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Maternal depression is one of the most well-documented risk factors for child and adolescent depression, but little work has focused on how to reduce this risk. Although a few interventions have been developed and tested, implementing targeted prevention efforts with depressed mothers and their children is not common practice. The increased risk of depression for children of depressed mothers is so clear, however, professionals can no longer “sit on the sidelines” without initiating specific prevention efforts with this population. To do so requires a paradigm shift—moving from a focus on individual treatment to a prevention approach that engages the entire family as the unit of care. The purpose of this paper is to draw on existing literature to highlight potential “pathways to prevention” for children of depressed mothers. Recommendations for initiating these pathways based on family lifecycle stage, point of contact, and service setting are presented and discussed.