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Parental depression as a moderator of secondary deficits of depression in adult offspring.

Timko C, Cronkite RC, Swindle R, Robinson RL, Sutkowi A, Moos RH. Parental depression as a moderator of secondary deficits of depression in adult offspring. Child Psychiatry and Human Development. 2009 Dec 1; 40(4):575-88.

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This study examined whether having a depressed parent intensifies the secondary deficits that often co-occur with offspring's depression symptoms. The sample was adult offspring of parents who had been diagnosed with depression 23 years earlier (N = 143) and demographically matched nondepressed parents (N = 197). Respondents completed mailed questionnaires. After controlling for demographic factors, offspring who were more depressed experienced more impairment: physical dysfunction, pain, and disability; anxiety, smoking, and drinking-related problems; poorer social resources; negative events and severe stressors; and reliance on emotional discharge coping. Parental status (depressed or not depressed) was not directly related to offspring impairment once offspring depression symptoms were controlled. However, parental status moderated associations between offspring's depression severity and their impairment: relationships between depression and impairments were generally stronger for offspring of depressed parents than for offspring of nondepressed parents. Depressed individuals who are offspring of depressed parents may be at particular risk for the secondary deficits of depression.

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