Send to

Choose Destination
J Psychiatr Res. 1990;24(3):231-50.

Maternal expressed emotion and parental affective disorder: risk for childhood depressive disorder, substance abuse, or conduct disorder.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.


Expressed emotion (EE) refers to a set of emotional aspects of speech for which ratings have been derived. Seven independent studies have established that higher EE ratings in the relatives of patients with schizophrenia predict higher rates of relapse in these patients and two studies have established an association of higher EE in spouses with relapse of depression in their mate. There are no previous studies of parental EE as a predictor of childhood affective disorder or other disorders not in the schizophrenia spectrum. In this study we investigated the relationship between the level of maternal EE and the incidence of DSM-III affective disorder (major depression or mania or dysthymia), substance abuse, or conduct disorder in 273 children. We found that a higher degree of maternal expressed emotion was associated with a three-fold increase in a child's risk (odds multiplier) for having at least one of the following diagnoses: depressive disorder (major depression or dysthymia), substance abuse, or conduct disorder. This increased risk acts in addition to the increased risk of child diagnosis associated with parental affective illness. Research and clinical implications are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center