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Vol. 37, No. 6, 2004
Issue release date: November–December 2004
Psychopathology 2004;37:272–280

Interactive Regulation of Affect in Postpartum Depressed Mothers and Their Infants: An Overview

Reck C. · Hunt A. · Fuchs T. · Weiss R. · Noon A. · Moehler E. · Downing G. · Tronick E.Z. · Mundt C.
aDepartment of General Psychiatry, and bDepartment of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, cFamily Counseling Center, Korbach, Germany; dSalpêtrière Hospital, Paris, France; eChild Development Unit, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Mass., USA

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Specific patterns of interaction emerging in the first months of life are related to processes regulating mutual affects in the mother-child dyad. Particularly important for the dyad are the matching and interactive repair processes. The interaction between postpartum depressed mothers and their children is characterized by a lack of responsiveness, by passivity or intrusiveness, withdrawal and avoidance, as well as a low level of positive expression of affect. Thus, an impaired capability to regulate the child’s affect has been demonstrated in depressed mothers. Maternal aggression, neglect toward infants, infanticidal thoughts, as well as infanticidal behavior are mainly linked to severe postpartum depression, especially with psychotic symptoms. The findings on mother-child interaction reported in this paper are based on mothers with mild to moderate depressive disorders without psychotic symptoms. Considering the stability of interaction patterns in the course of depressive illness as well as the long-term consequences of these interactions, it seems surprising that there are still few systematic studies of depressed mothers interacting with their infants.In connection with an overview on these issues, treatment models forparent-infant psychotherapy are discussed.

 goto top of outline Author Contacts

Dr. Corinna Reck
Psychiatrische Universitätsklinik
Vossstrasse 2, DE–69115 Heidelberg (Germany)
Tel. +49 6221 56 4465, Fax +49 6221 56 1741

 goto top of outline Article Information

Received: May 28, 2003
Accepted after revision: March 30, 2004
Published online: November 9, 2004
Number of Print Pages : 9
Number of Figures : 0, Number of Tables : 0, Number of References : 75

 goto top of outline Publication Details

Psychopathology (International Journal of Descriptive and Experimental Psychopathology, Phenomenology and Psychiatric Diagnosis)

Vol. 37, No. 6, Year 2004 (Cover Date: Published online first (Issue-in-Progress))

Journal Editor: Gabriel, E. (Wien)
ISSN: 0254–4962 (print), 1423–033X (Online)

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