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October 1986

Impact of Severity and Chronicity of Parental Affective Illness on Adaptive Functioning and Psychopathology in Children

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Drs Keller, Dorer, Lavori, and Klerman and Ms Samuelson); and the Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Dr Beardslee).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1986;43(10):930-937. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1986.01800100020004

• We report on the impact of specific indexes of the severity and chronicity of parental depression, measures of familial discord, and demographic variables as predictors of impaired adaptive functioning and psychopathology in children. Seventy-two children and their mothers from 37 families were interviewed in person. At least one biological parent in each family had a depressive disorder but neither parent had a history of mania, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder. Almost every measure of severity and chronicity of depression in the biological parents has a statistically significant association with currently impaired adaptation and the presence of a DSM-III-diagnosed disorder in the children, as do the measures of increased discord among married or separated parents. Depression in the mother is more strongly associated with increased psychopathology in the children than is depression in the father.

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