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Br J Psychiatry. 2004 Aug;185:97-101.

Impact of stressful life events, familial loading and their interaction on the onset of mood disorders: study in a high-risk cohort of adolescent offspring of parents with bipolar disorder.

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  • 1Altrecht Institute for Mental Health Care, Lange Nieuwstraat 119, 3512 PG Utrecht, The Netherlands. m.hillegers@altrecht.nl

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Stressful life events are established as risk factors for the onset of mood disorders, but few studies have investigated their impact on the development of mood disorders in adolescents.

AIMS:

To study the effect of life events on the development of mood disorders in the offspring of parents with bipolar disorder, with respect to the possibility of a decay effect and modification by familial loading.

METHOD:

In a high-risk cohort of 140 Dutch adolescent offspring of parents with bipolar disorder, we assessed life events, current and past DSM-IV diagnoses and familial loading. To explore their interaction and impact on mood disorder onset, we constructed four different models and used a multivariate survival analysis with time-dependent covariates.

RESULTS:

The relationship between life events and mood disorder was described optimally with a model in which the effects of life events gradually decayed by 25% per year. The effect of life event load was not significantly stronger in the case of high familial loading.

CONCLUSIONS:

Independent of familial loading, life events increase the liability to mood disorders in children of patients with bipolar disorder but the effects slowly diminish with time.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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