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Br J Psychiatry. 1986 Feb;148:165-9.

Parental loss by death in the early childhood of depressed patients and of their healthy siblings.


The incidence of parental loss by death before the age of 15 was investigated in a series of 200 depressed patients, sub-divided into unipolars, bipolars and neurotic-reactive depressives, and in their healthy siblings at risk. The age of onset of illness of patients who had lost a parent before 15 was compared with that of depressed controls. No excess of parental loss at any age was found in any of the patient sub-groups, as compared with their healthy siblings, nor did parental loss affect the age of onset of later depression. The results do not support the assumption that the loss of either parent by death in early childhood is significantly associated with depression in adult life, though parental death may be an important variable for individual patients.

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