Perinatal depression, PTSD, and trauma: Impact on mother–infant attachment and interventions to mitigate the transmission of risk

Nora Erickson, Megan Julian, Maria Muzik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations

Abstract

Early interactions between infants and their caregivers are fundamental to child development, and the parent–infant relationship is believed to provide the foundation for healthy and secure attachment relationships and for infant mental health. Over time, these secure attachment relationships become the backbone for positive child outcomes across development. Abundant research to date confirms that parental mental illness, including depression and PTSD following trauma exposure, may have a detrimental impact on parenting quality and subsequent early child relationship formations. This review paper summarizes the literature on the role of sensitive parenting and a healthy mother–infant relationship in establishing a secure mother–infant attachment bond, which in turn is critical for the child’s healthy socioemotional and cognitive development. The review also highlights the roles of maternal perinatal depression, PTSD, and/or exposure to interpersonal violence or childhood maltreatment onto parenting, bonding, and child attachment style towards the caregiver. The final section discusses existing therapeutic interventions and approaches that bolster early parenting practices and early maternal–child relationships. Specific emphasis is placed on relational interventions that address bonding and attachment disturbances in the context of maternal perinatal mental health risk and trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-263
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Review of Psychiatry
Volume31
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 3 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Institute of Psychiatry and Johns Hopkins University.

Keywords

  • Perinatal mental illness
  • child development
  • infant attachment
  • maternal bonding
  • parenting sensitivity

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