Intrusive and withdrawn depressed mothers and their infants

Tiffany Field, Maria Hernandez-Reif, Miguel Diego

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


This review of the literature on two different interaction styles of depressed mothers, intrusive and withdrawn, shows that withdrawn versus intrusive mothers typically have an EEG pattern that is associated with negative affect (i.e., greater relative right frontal EEG activation) as well as lower levels of the activating neurotransmitter, dopamine. These profiles also occur in their newborn infants. These prenatal effects together with the less stimulating interactive behavior of their withdrawn mothers might explain why infants of withdrawn mothers are less exploratory and have lower scores than infants of intrusive mothers on the Bayley Mental scale at one year. Interventions have been differentially tailored for intrusive and withdrawn mothers, such as interaction coaching which has been designed to decrease the behaviors of intrusive mothers (imitation) or increase the behaviors of withdrawn mothers (attention-getting). Similarly, different types of music have been tried as mood inductions for the different interaction style mothers. Although immediate positive effects have been noted, more intensive, long-term interventions may be needed to alter these negative interaction behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-30
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopmental Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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