Children of addicted parents more likely to be depressed adults

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Children who have drug or alcohol addicted parents are more likely to be depressed as adults, according to a new study from the University of Toronto.

Researchers looked at the association between parental addictions and adult depression in sample data from 6,268 adults who participated in the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey. The data revealed a connection between people who had major depressive episodes and a childhood in which a parent drank or used drugs “so often that it caused problems for the family.”

Having addicted parents increases risk of depression

“Even after adjusting for factors ranging from childhood maltreatment and parental unemployment to adult health behaviors including smoking and alcohol consumption, we found that parental addictions were associated with 69 percent higher odds of depression in adulthood,” said professor Fuller-Thomson and endowed chair Sandra Rotman of the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

While the study did not reveal causal links, the researchers felt the strain and stress of living through a childhood with an addicted parent contributed to the ability – or inability – to deal with stress later in life.

Stable involvement of caring adults can help

“These findings underscore the intergenerational consequences of drug and alcohol addiction and reinforce the need to develop interventions that support healthy childhood development,” explained Fuller-Thomson. “As an important first step, children who experience toxic stress at home can be greatly helped by the stable involvement of caring adults, including grandparents, teachers, coaches, neighbors and social workers.

“Although more research is needed to determine if access to a responsive and loving adult decreases the likelihood of adult depression among children exposed to parental addictions, we do know that these caring relationships promote healthy development and buffer stress.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Toronto, Psychiatry Research

 
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