Depression in Family Interaction

Interactions between family members set the stage for children’s social development and can profoundly affect their trajectory toward health or dysfunction. Families that interact harmoniously and resolve conflict effectively are more likely to lead healthy and happy lives. However, families that struggle in this area are more likely to suffer from psychological issues like depression. Given that depression often begins during adolescence and has worse outcomes the earlier it starts, it is crucial to be able to detect and intervene on problematic interaction patterns as quickly as possible.

Many of the symptoms of depression are related to a reduction in mood, leading to decreases in positive affect (e.g., joy and laughter) and increases in negative affect (e.g, anger, sadness, and fear). We aim to create tools to assist clinicians in detecting these important affective states. We are interested in how affect is expressed in different modality (How do we speak? What do we say? What facial expression do we show?) and how their interactions influence positive and negative affect.