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Characterising depression trajectories in young people at high familial risk of depression

Weavers, Bryony ORCID:, Riglin, Lucy, Martin, Joanna ORCID:, Anney, Richard ORCID:, Collishaw, Stephan ORCID:, Heron, Jon, Thapar, Ajay ORCID:, Thapar, Anita ORCID: and Rice, Frances ORCID: 2023. Characterising depression trajectories in young people at high familial risk of depression. Journal of Affective Disorders 337 , pp. 66-74. 10.1016/j.jad.2023.05.063

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Background Parental depression is a common and potent risk factor for depression in offspring. However, the developmental course of depression from childhood to early-adulthood has not been characterized in this high-risk group. Methods Using longitudinal data from 337 young people who had a parent with a history of recurrent major depressive disorder (MDD), we characterized trajectories of broadly defined depressive disorder using latent class growth analysis. We used clinical descriptions to further characterise trajectory classes. Results Two trajectory classes were identified: childhood-emerging (25 %) and adulthood-emerging (75 %). The childhood-emerging class showed high rates of depressive disorder from age 12.5, which persisted through the study period. The adulthood-emerging class showed low rates of depressive disorder until age 26. Individual factors (IQ and ADHD symptoms) and parent depression severity (comorbidity, persistence and impairment) differentiated the classes but there were no differences in family history score or polygenic scores associated with psychiatric disorder. Clinical descriptions indicated functional impairment in both classes, but more severe symptomatology and impairment in the childhood-emerging class. Limitations Attrition particularly affected participation in young adulthood. Factors associated with attrition were low family income, single parent household status and low parental education. Conclusions The developmental course of depressive disorder in children of depressed parents is variable. When followed up to adult life, most individuals exhibited some functional impairment. An earlier age-of-onset was associated with a more persistent and impairing course of depression. Access to effective prevention strategies is particularly warranted for at-risk young people showing early-onsetting and persistent depressive symptoms.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Additional Information: A corrigendum to this article can be seen at
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0165-0327
Funders: MRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 June 2023
Date of Acceptance: 18 May 2023
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 00:56

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