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Depressed parents' children prone to mental woes

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, June 6 (Reuters) Offspring of parents who suffered from depression face an increased risk themselves for depression, anxiety and drug dependence that extends well into adulthood, a new study shows.

While children of depressed parents are known to be at greater risk of depression and anxiety early on, there has been little research on how they fare as adults, according to Dr.

Myrna M. Weissman of Columbia University in New York City and colleagues.

They report in the American Journal of Psychiatry on a 20-year follow-up study comparing 101 people who had at least one parent with major depressive disorder and 50 whose parents were free of major depression. Participants were 35 years old, on average, at the time of follow-up.

Offspring of a depressed parent were three times as likely to have anxiety disorder, major depression or substance dependence, the researchers found, and they were also at greater risk of social impairment on the job or in family life.

Also, by age 35, the researchers found, offspring of depressed parents were five times as likely to report heart or blood vessel disease and more than twice as likely to have some type of neuromuscular disorder. Overall, they were at double the risk of medical illness compared to offspring of non-depressed parents.

''The offspring of depressed parents constitute a high-risk group for psychiatric and medical problems, which begin early and continue through adulthood,'' Weissman and her team conclude. ''Early detection seems warranted.'' REUTERS CH HS0833

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