Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 74 Issue 4 (December 2001), Pages 419-553

Mediation of depression by perceptions of defeat and entrapment in high‐stress mothers (pages 473-485)

Previous studies have demonstrated a causal role of stress in depression, and an association between depression and perceptions of defeat and entrapment. The present study was conducted to determine whether perceptions of defeat/entrapment mediate the relationship between stress and depression. Seventy‐six mothers of children attending specialist educational provision for a range of special needs completed the Parenting Stress Index—Short Form (PSI‐SF), Defeat and Entrapment Scales, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and the Fawcett‐Clark Pleasure Capacity Scale (FCPCS). Relative to population norms, respondents reported very high levels of stress, moderately high levels of defeat/entrapment, mild depression, and very low hedonic capacities. Most of these measures were more extreme in younger mothers and those with a prior history of depression. FCPCS scores were correlated negatively with stress, after controlling for levels of defeat/entrapment, but were not correlated with BDI scores, suggesting that the FCPCS may be an unsuitable instrument for use in the present participant population. Significant positive correlations were found between all measures of stress, defeat/entrapment and depression. After controlling for PSI‐SF scores, correlations between BDI and defeat/entrapment scores remained highly significant. However, after controlling for defeat/entrapment, correlations between BDI and PSI‐SF scores were non‐significant. Hence, perceptions of defeat/entrapment mediate the relationship between stress and depression. This relationship was confirmed formally using regression analysis. Because respondents reported high levels of stress in contrast to mild levels of depression, a causal link can be inferred, running from stress via defeat/entrapment to depression.

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