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Mental health disorders ‘more likely in children of patients with depression’

Almost a quarter of children with a parent suffering from depression meet the criteria for a diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder themselves, says UK research.

Their study looked at 333 children aged 9-17 years with a parent with a history of recurrent depression. Parents with bipolar depression or psychotic diagnosis were excluded.

Data was gathered using structured interviews, with trained interviewers used to assess the child's mental health over the preceding three months. Any child meeting criteria for a diagnosis was then reviewed by two senior psychiatrists.

They found 24% of the children were identified with a psychiatric disorder, with 11% meeting the criteria for an anxiety disorder and 7% a disruptive behaviour disorder.

Of those children with a psychiatric disorder, only 37% had accessed services in the prior three months due to concerns about behaviour.

Study lead Dr Robert Potter, an honorary research fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Cardiff University, said: ‘This highlights the need for GPs, who are seeing parents with depression, and for parents themselves to be aware of the risk of mental health problems in their children.'

Br J Gen Pract, available online 25 June 2012

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