Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 47, Issue 12, pp 1931–1943 | Cite as

Parents’ Personality-Disorder Symptoms Predict Children’s Symptoms of Anxiety and Depressive Disorders – a Prospective Cohort Study

  • Silje SteinsbekkEmail author
  • Turid Suzanne Berg-Nielsen
  • Jay Belsky
  • Elisabeth Berg Helland
  • Marte Hågenrud
  • Andrea Raballo
  • Lars Wichstrøm


Personality disorder (PD) symptomatology is characterized by interpersonal problems and emotional dysregulation, which may affect offspring of parents with PD symptoms. Notably though, studies are needed to discern (i) whether parental PDs forecast symptoms of psychiatric disorders in offspring during their childhood years and (ii) whether such prospective relations obtain after accounting for common causes (e.g., genetics, common methods). To address these issues, we followed up a community sample of Norwegian children biennially from ages 4 to 8 (n = 594), using a semi-structured psychiatric interview (PAPA/CAPA) to capture DSM-IV defined symptoms of emotional disorders. Parental symptoms of personality disorders were captured by the DSM-IV and ICD-10 Personality Questionnaire (DIP-Q), whereas depression and anxiety in caregivers were measured using the Beck Depression Inventory –II and Beck Anxiety Inventory, respectively. Upon applying a hybrid fixed and random effects method that takes into account all unmeasured time-invariant confounders, we found that: (i) Parental symptoms of DSM-IV defined Cluster A and C were related to symptoms of anxiety disorders in offspring two years later, even after accounting for children’s initial levels of anxiety and parental anxiety, whereas (ii) Parental DSM-IV Cluster B predicted symptoms of depressive disorders in children, adjusted for children’s initial levels of depression and parental depression. Clinical implications of the results are discussed.


Personality disorder Anxiety Depression Symptoms Parents Children 



This research was funded by the Research Council of Norway, grant number 228685

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare no biomedical financial interests or potential conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

10802_2019_568_MOESM1_ESM.docx (62 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 62 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyDragvollNorway
  2. 2.NTNU Social ResearchDragvollNorway
  3. 3.Regional Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, South & East NorwayOsloNorway
  4. 4.University of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  5. 5.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatrySt. Olavs University HospitalTrondheimNorway

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