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The impact of parental affective disorder on depression in offspring: a longitudinal follow-up in a nonreferred sample.

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Judge Baker Children's Center, Department of Psychiatry, Boston, MA 02115.



This study explored the effects of parental affective disorder on offspring in a nonreferred health maintenance organization 4 years after initial examination.


The sample, average age 18.5 years, included 91% of the 153 youngsters initially studied. The main instruments were structured diagnostic interviews scored according to criterion systems for both parents and children; assessment of the youngsters was blind to the previous assessment.


Rates of major depressive disorder were higher in the children of parents with affective disorder (26%) compared with those whose parents had no disorder (10%).


Depression and other parental affective disorders, as they occur in the community in parents who often are neither recognized nor treated, are associated with serious affective disorder in offspring. Clinical and preventive approaches for these offspring are needed and should be targeted to all families in which there is serious parental affective disorder, not just those who present for psychiatric treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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