Low Parental Care As A Risk Factor To Lifetime Depression In A Community Sample

Parker, Gordon; Hadzi-Pavlovic, Dusan; Greenwald, Steven; Weissman, Myrna

A number of studies have reported links between experiencing low parental care and subsequent depressive experience. As the majority have involved patient samples, links may reflect anomalous parenting disposing to help-seeking behaviour (and patient status) rather than directly to depression. We, therefore, report a community study, so redressing any such artefact emerging from a patient sample and, additionally, quantify the relevance of low parental care to depression in comparison to several other risk factors (i.e., age, gender, educational level, socioeconomic status and marital status). Subjects were drawn from the ECA study and comprised those assessed at the l-year follow-up interview undertaken at the New Haven site, with parental care being assessed by a key item from the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI). Those reaching criteria for a lifetime episode of major depressive disorder were significantly more likely to report low care from both parents as well as to be female, divorced or separated, and younger. Low parental care (along with age and mental status but not female sex) appeared pathoplastic in being linked with an increased chance of psychopathology in general, rather than demonstrating specificity to major depressive disorder.


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Journal of Affective Disorders

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February 1, 2022