Infectious Disease

The family history of depression increases the risk of children for depressive, other mental disorders

April 23, 2021

2 min read

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Disclosure:
Weissman reports having received research grants from the Brain and Behavior Foundation, the NIMH, the Sackler Foundation, and the Templeton Foundation. Book fees from APA Publishing, Oxford Press, and Perseus Press; and royalties on the social adjustment scale of multihealth systems. In the study you will find all relevant financial information from all other authors.

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Children with a family history of two generations of depression had a significant risk of developing depressive and other psychiatric disorders, according to the study of adolescent brain cognitive development published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Myrna M. Weissman

“We wanted to make sure that the family history in the ABCD data was correct, and we assessed this in a study that interviewed parents and grandparents directly.” Myrna M. Weissman, PhD, from the Department of Translational Epidemiology at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, said Healio Psychiatry. “We showed that grandchildren who had both parents and grandparents with depression had the highest rates of depression themselves.”

In particular, Weissman, lead author Milenna T. van Dijk, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry at Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center and colleagues examined the association between family history of depression and lifelong depressive disorder and other psychopathology by analyzing retrospective, cross-sectional reports on the psychiatric functioning of 11,200 children 47.8% girls (mean age 9.9 years) and parents report their parents ‘and grandparents’ history of depression. They received data from the ABCD study, which used sample weights for generalized estimating equation models and descriptive analysis. The researchers identified four risk categories, to reflect the number of previous generations with a history of depression, with first generation for grandparents, two for parents, and three for children.The risk categories were neither generation one nor generation two; just he 1st generation; generation two only; and both generation one and generation two. Researchers used reports from children and caregivers as a basis for child longevity prevalence and relative risks for psychiatric disorders, and grouped them according to familial risk categories derived from first and second generation history of depression.

Results according to parent reports showed that the weighted prevalence of depressive disorder in children was 3.8% for neither the first nor second generation group, 5.5% for the only first generation group, 10.4% for the only one Second generation group and 13.3% for the first and second generation group two generation group. The prevalence of child weight suicide was 5% for the first and second generation group, 7.2% for the only first generation group. 12.1% for the only second generation group and 15% for the first and second generation group.

According to children’s reports, the weighted prevalence of depressive disorder in children was 4.8% for the first and second generation group, 4.3% for the only first generation group, 6.3% for the only second generation group, and 7% for the first generation and group of the second generation. The weighted prevalence of suicidal behavior in children was 7.4% for the first and second generation group, 7% for the only first generation group, 9.8% for the only second generation group, and 13.8% for the group the first and second generation. Researchers found similar patterns for other disorders in reports from both children and parents, and across race / ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status.

“A detailed family history of depression is important for clinical evaluation as it can self-identify a young person at high risk for depression,” Weissman said.

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