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Following the children of depressed parents from childhood to adult life: a focus on mood and anxiety disorders

Powell, Victoria, Lennon, Jessica, Bevan-Jones, Rhys ORCID:, Stephens, Alice, Weavers, Bryony ORCID:, Osborn, David, Allardyce, Judith ORCID:, Potter, Robert, Thapar, Ajay ORCID:, Collishaw, Stephan ORCID:, Thapar, Anita ORCID:, Heron, Jon and Rice, Frances ORCID: 2023. Following the children of depressed parents from childhood to adult life: a focus on mood and anxiety disorders. JCPP Advances 3 (4) , e12182. 10.1002/jcv2.12182

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Background Parental depression increases risk for anxiety and depression in offspring. The transition from adolescence to adulthood is a common risk period for onset of such disorders. However, relatively few studies have considered development of these disorders from childhood to adulthood including multiple assessments during this transition period. Method Offspring of depressed parents aged 9–17 years at baseline were followed prospectively for 13 years (n = 337). Average length of follow-up was 16 months between the first and second waves, 13 months between the second and third, and 8 years between the third and fourth. Current (3-month) psychopathology was assessed at each wave using diagnostic interviews. We derived estimates of 3-month prevalence, age at first diagnosis, course and comorbidity of disorders. Social functioning in adult life was assessed at the final wave and we assessed how prior and current disorder impacted adult functioning. Results A quarter of young people met criteria for a mood disorder and a third for anxiety disorder at least once. Mood and anxiety disorder prevalence increased from 4.5% and 15.8% respectively in childhood (9–11 years) to 22.3% and 20.9% respectively by age 23–28. Increased prevalence across the transition from adolescence to adulthood was particularly marked in males, while prevalence increased earlier in adolescence in females. Age at first diagnosis varied widely (mood disorder mean = 16.5 years (range 9–26); anxiety disorder mean = 14.5 years (range 9–28)). Over half (52%) reported functional impairment in early adulthood, 31% harmful alcohol use, and 10% self-harm or a suicide attempt. Both previous and current mood or anxiety disorder were associated with functional impairment in early adulthood. Conclusions There is a prolonged risk period for mood and anxiety disorders in this group, with prevalence peaking in early adulthood. This highlights the need for prolonged vigilance and effective targeted interventions in the offspring of depressed parents.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: Wiley Open Access
ISSN: 2692-9384
Funders: MRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 May 2023
Date of Acceptance: 4 May 2023
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2024 15:05

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