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December 23 2009

Translating Intergenerational Research on Depression Into Clinical Practice

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute and College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York, New York.

JAMA. 2009;302(24):2695-2696. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1919

Depression is highly prevalent (especially among women during the childbearing years), frequently recurrent, often untreated, and associated with several adverse health outcomes. Anxiety, depressive, and disruptive behavior disorders are more common in the children of depressed than nondepressed parents.1

Three recent studies suggest clinical opportunities for attenuating the intergenerational transmission of depression. In the first study, an observational analysis, successful treatment of depressed mothers to remission was associated with a significant reduction of symptoms in their children,2 while persistence of maternal depression was associated with increased risk of child psychiatric disorders and symptoms.2 In the second study, a randomized clinical trial, interpersonal psychotherapy compared with treatment as usual for depressed mothers of school-aged children decreased depressive symptoms in the mothers and their children.3 The third study, also a randomized clinical trial, reported that group cognitive behavioral therapy was effective in preventing high-risk adolescents from developing depression over the 9-month follow-up4 except when living with a parent who was currently depressed.

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