Mothers' affect dysregulation, depressive symptoms, and emotional availability during mother-infant interaction

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Abstract

Maternal affect dysregulation and maternal depressive symptoms were examined as predictors of maternal emotional availability (EA) during mother-infant interaction in a nonclinical sample. In particular, we investigated if affect dysregulation predicts EA and is more important than are depressive symptoms in predicting EA. Questionnaire measures and 30 min of free play were obtained from 46 mothers of 4- to 5-month-old infants. Mothers' self-reported affect dysregulation was inversely related to EA, but mothers' depressive symptoms were not related to EA. More specifically, mothers' tendency to use unhealthy externalizing behaviors to reduce tension and distress predicted less EA. These results suggested that even in relatively low-risk samples, mothers' self-reported affect dysregulation, particularly the tendency to act out inappropriately in response to tension and distress, may be a more proximal predictor of EA than are depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-476
Number of pages8
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Volume33
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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