Harvard Mental Health Letter

Depressed parent, depressed child?

Researchers are testing family interventions for treatment and prevention.

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States, affecting about one in six adults at some point. About 7.5 million of those affected each year are parents. When a parent is depressed, the likelihood increases that his or her children will develop this mood disorder as well.

In the population as a whole, for example, surveys indicate that about 20% of young people develop depression by age 18. In families where one parent is depressed, however, about 40% of youths develop depression by age 20, and 60% do so by age 25.

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