Mental Disorders and Children

There is a strong link between mental disorders in parents and their children, according to a study in the January 2001 American Journal of Psychiatry. When parents have major depression or a panic disorder, their children are at increased risk for emotional and behavioral problems of their own.

Depression in parents is associated with depression, social phobia, disruptive behavior disorder, separation anxiety disorder, multiple anxiety disorder, and/or poorer social functioning in children.

Panic disorder in parents is associated with panic disorder, agoraphobia, separation anxiety disorder, and/or multiple anxiety disorder in children.

Yet when parents are diagnosed, the children are often not even considered.

I hope that this study will prompt caregivers to notice whether the children are in any distress and to provide support for them, even at a very young age. And of course, I hope that parents will get the treatment and support that they themselves deserve, both for their own sake and for their children.

Published on: January 08, 2001
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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