Health In Focus
  • Depressed parents and grandparents increase risk of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) among grandchildren.
  • Children of depressed parents have more than twice the risk of getting MDD when compared with children of normal parents.
  • Children of depressed parents and grandparents have thrice the risk of getting MDD.

Grandchildren could fall prey to depression if their parents and grandparents suffer from major depressive disorder (MDD). Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects people at all ages, races and economic backgrounds. It is found to affect nearly 17 million Americans every year including children. In the U.S
  • One in 33 children are affected
  • One in 8 teens are affected
In India, depression is seen in
  • 0.4% to 2.5% in children
  • 0.4% to 8.3% in adolescents
  • The lifetime risk for MDD among adolescents is between 15 to 20%
The lifetime risk for MDD among adolescents is comparable with the lifetime risk for adults, suggesting that depression could start at the adolescent stage.
Could Depression in Parents and Grandparents Lead to Depression in Grandchildren?
Could Depression in Parents and Grandparents Lead to Depression in Grandchildren?

Feeling sad or lonely from time to time or for short spells is a part of growing up and is noticed in teenagers, however, when the period of feeling sad lasts for a few months and more it can interfere with the development of the child.

Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Major Depressive Disorder could lead to
  • Psychosis
  • Substance abuse
  • Poor eating habits
  • Suicidal attempts
  • Poor cognitive growth
  • Poor academic performance
  • Inability to focus
MDD in adolescents could affect their growth and development and leave a permanent scar in their knowledge acquisition. The golden years of their lives, when teenagers are meant to enjoy the freedom of responsible free young adulthood suffers a serious setback when they are faced with depression. It is important to identify this condition at the earliest and to treat it before it leads to long term harm.

Dr. Myrna M. Weissman from New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York and The Columbia University studied the influence of depression among parents and grandparents in an attempt to assess the risk to grandchildren and to highlight their needs. The study involved 251 eighteen year olds who were interviewed twice. The biological parents of the children were interviewed 5 times while the grandparents were asked questions that led back to 30 years. This provided considerable data about the mental health of the parents as well as the grandparents.

Earlier studies on the depression of children focused more on the depressive state of parents, however, the current study looks at the depression levels of grandparents too, increasing the focus of study.

Results of the Study

  • Children of depressed parents had a two time risk of gaining MDD.
  • Children of depressed parents and grandparents had a three times risk of getting MDD.
  • Children of depressed parents but normal grandparents had a greater risk of getting MDD than children of parents without depression.
Depression is a serious health condition that could hinder growth, therefore, active surveillance and proper treatment will help depressed children from developmental stunting. Moreover, a happy home will breed happy children, which should be the benchmark for every family.

References :
  1. Depression - Introduction - (

Source: Medindia

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