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Psychol Med. 2005 Oct;35(10):1493-503.

Psychosocial impairment in offspring of depressed parents.

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Oregon Research Institute, Eugene, OR 97403-1983, USA.



Offspring of depressed parents experience impairment in a number of domains of functioning. Few studies have examined the impact of both maternal and paternal depression and co-morbid psychopathology on offspring functioning.


Oregon Adolescent Depression Project participants were administered diagnostic interviews and completed measures of psychosocial functioning during adolescence (mean = 16.6, S.D. = 1.19) and again during young adulthood (mean = 24.5, S.D. = 0.51). Diagnostic interviews were also conducted with the mothers and fathers of the target individual.


After controlling for relevant demographic characteristics, parental co-morbid psychopathology, and offspring psychopathology, maternal depression was associated with higher levels of physical symptoms (beta = 0.14, S.E. = 0.07) during adolescence, and higher levels of minor stressors (beta = 2.52, S.E. = 1.07) and a greater risk for using mental health services (OR 1.86, 95% CI 1.14-3.03) in young adulthood. Paternal depression was associated with offspring experiencing more major stressors (beta = 0.27, S.E. = 0.07), having lower perceived social competence (beta = -0.17, S.E. = 0.08), and being more likely to attempt suicide (OR 2.65, 95% CI 1.19-5.92) during adolescence, as well as lower perceived social competence (beta = -1.21, S.E. = 0.49) in young adulthood.Conclusions. Offspring of depressed parents demonstrate impairment in a variety of domains, even after controlling for the effects of their own psychopathology. Further research on the mechanisms that lead to these impairments, as well as the role of these impairments in the subsequent development of psychopathology, is warranted.

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