Harvard Mental Health Letter

In Brief: Children of depression

In Brief

Children of depression

Two new studies throw light on how children are affected by a parent's depression and its treatment.

In the first study, 101 people, average age 35, of parents who had been treated for depression at clinics were compared with 51 matched controls who did not have a depressed parent. Depression in a parent more than doubled the risk for anxiety disorders, depression, and addiction in children. Compared to controls, nearly three times as many children of depressed parents, proportionately, had been treated for emotional problems, and twice as many had taken psychiatric drugs.

That was no surprise, given the well-known influence of family history on psychiatric disorders. More remarkably, the children of depressed parents also had a five-times higher rate of cardiovascular illness than controls (11% versus 2%). And anyone in either group who had cardiovascular illness also had a psychiatric disorder, usually a mood disorder.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »