, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 170-179

Family functioning in adolescents at high and low risk for major depressive disorder

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Families of two subgroups of adolescents in the community, at high and low risk for major depressive disorder, were compared on the McMaster Family Assessment Device (FAD) and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). Families of high-risk adolescents who became depressed by follow-up at one year were comared with other families of high-risk subjects. The only significant difference on FAD ratings for high- and low-risk groups was on the sub-scale Roles as reported by mothers. FAD ratings showed that, compared with mothers, fathers of high-risk adolescents held significantly worse views of their families' functioning on the sub-scales Problem Solving. Affective Responsiveness and Behaviour Control. There were no such differences between low-risk parents. Both mothers and fathers of high-risk adolescents reported their own mental health as significantly poorer than mothers and fathers of low-risks. The mental health of mothers in the high-risk group only was significantly associated with their FAD ratings. Adolescents rated their families as significantly worse on the FAD than their parents and the lower their mood and self-esteem, the worse they rated their families on the FAD. Subsequent MDD in adolescents by follow-up at one year was not associated with the FAD scores of any family member, nor with either parent's mental health.

Accepted: 26 January 2001