Family discord, parental depression, and psychopathology in offspring: 20-year follow-up.J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2006 Apr; 45(4):452-60.JA
To determine the independent effects of parental depression and family discord on offspring psychopathology among children at high and low risk of depression.
Family discord factors were assessed when subjects were approximately 17 years old, and offspring diagnoses were assessed about 20 years later. Parental and offspring psychopathology was assessed by interviewers blind to parents' clinical status. The following dimensions of family discord were assessed: poor marital adjustment, parent child discord, low family cohesion, affectionless control, and parental divorce.
Most family discord factors were associated with parental depression. Among children of depressed parents, none of the measures of family discord had a statistically significant association with offspring major depressive disorder or anxiety disorders. Among children of nondepressed parents, parental affectionless control was associated with an almost fivefold increased risk of major depressive disorder (odds ratio [OR] = 4.8; p < or = .05) and with more than a 14-fold increased risk of substance use disorders (OR = 14.3; p < or = .01).
Parental depression is associated with family discord and is a consistent risk factor for offspring major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders, as shown over a 20-year follow-up of offspring of depressed and nondepressed parents. Family discord factors may be a risk factor for major depressive disorder and substance use disorders in offspring of nondepressed parents.