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Children of parents with unipolar depression: A controlled 1-year follow-up

Abstract

An earlier cross sectional study indicated that children's health and adjustment is at risk when their parents are depressed. Here, we report the associated longitudinal changes in children and families when parental depression either remits or continues. Comparisons are made among three groups established at a 1 year follow up: (a) previously depressed parents whose symptoms have remitted (N=34 remitted parents), (b) previously depressed parents who continue to be depressed (N=23 nonremitted parents), and (c) sociodemographically matched control families (N=95). Although remitted parents and their family social environments improved, their children were still functioning more poorly than children of controls. Both the children and the families of nonremitted parents continued to function more poorly than controls. A social environmental framework indicates that parents' functioning as well as family stressors and resources are concurrently and predictively linked to children's health.

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This work was supported in part by Veterans Administration Medical and Health Services Research and Development Service research funds, NIAAA grants AA02863 and AA06329, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. We thank Sarah Buxton, Marlene Koltin, Roger Mitchell, and Susan Spinrad for their assistance in collecting follow-up data, Dani Lawler and Rena David for data analyses, and Adrienne Juliano for manuscript preparation. Ruth Cronkite collaborated in developing measures for this study.

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Billings, A.G., Moos, R.H. Children of parents with unipolar depression: A controlled 1-year follow-up. J Abnorm Child Psychol 14, 149–166 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00917230

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00917230

Keywords

  • Cross Sectional Study
  • Social Environment
  • Sectional Study
  • Longitudinal Change
  • Family Stressor