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Offspring of parents who were depressed were more likely to have a psychiatric disorder 10 years later

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Question Are the offspring of parents who are depressed more likely to have major depressive disorder (MDD) in adulthood compared with offspring of parents who are not depressed?


Cohort study with follow up at 10 years.


New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


The initial sample consisted of 220 offspring (age range 6–23 y) from 91 families, including 153 offspring from 65 families in which ≥1 parent met Research Diagnostic Criteria for a lifetime history of MDD and had received treatment at the Yale University Depression Research Unit; and 67 offspring from 26 families in which neither parent had a history of psychiatric illness (based on 4 interviews) who were identified from a community survey. Parents with and without depression were matched by group for age and sex. 182 offspring and 73 parents were interviewed at the 10 year follow up.

Assessment of risk factors

Parents with and without depression …

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  • Source of funding: in part, National Institute of Mental Health.

  • For correspondence: Dr M M Weissman, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute, 722 W 168th Street, New York, NY 10032 USA. Fax +1 212 568 3534.