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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2000 Feb;188(2):63-70.

Parental psychopathology and reports of the childhood home environment in adults with early-onset dysthymic disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 11794-2500, USA.


In previous studies, patients with dysthymic disorder (DD) have reported significantly more adverse early home environments than patients with episodic major depressive disorder (MDD) and normal controls. However, DD is also associated with increased rates of mood and personality disorders in first-degree relatives, raising the possibility that the DD-early adversity relationship may be due to the confounding effects of parental psychopathology. The present study addressed this issue using a sample of 97 adult outpatients with early-onset DD, 45 adult outpatients with episodic MDD, and 45 normal controls, and their first-degree relatives. The early home environment was assessed with semi-structured interviews and self-report inventories. Parental psychopathology was assessed using semi-structured direct and family history interviews, and diagnoses were assigned using the best-estimate procedure. Results indicated that parental mood and personality disorders were strongly associated with probands' reports of early adversity. However, patients with DD continued to differ significantly from patients with episodic MDD and normal controls after controlling for parental psychopathology.

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