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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1997 Nov;185(11):655-63.

The relationship of parental style to depression and self-esteem in adulthood.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center 77030, USA.


Previous studies have implicated low parental care and parental overprotection as risk factors for depression in adulthood. The present study further examined the association between perceived parental style and depression in two samples of medical students. In general, both low maternal and paternal care were associated with depression. Furthermore, maternal overprotection in the U.S. sample and paternal overprotection in the Scottish sample were also associated with depression. However, when results were analyzed separately for men and women, clear gender differences emerged, indicating that the observed relationships were occurring chiefly in the men, although there were some indications that low paternal care was associated with depression in women. Because such gender differences have not been previously reported, women medical students may be a unique group with respect to these relationships. Also intriguing was that although parental style characteristics demonstrated significant associations with self-esteem, this was clearly true only for men and not for women. Finally, the study provided the first partial support for the hypothesis that self-esteem mediates the relationship between parental style and depression.

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