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Little Attention Paid to Effect of Parents' Depression on Their Children

Posted Jul 14 2009 11:32pm

The Institute of Medicine notes there are large gaps in knowledge about the effects of parental depression on children and a need for multigenerational approaches to care.

Depression is too often a family affair and ought to be viewed that way, but the unsystematic nature of the U.S. health care system serves as a major block to identifying and treating millions of parents whose depression may affect their children's future, according to a report from the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.

"[P]arental depression is prevalent, but a comprehensive strategy to treat the depressed adults and prevent problems in the children in their care is absent," said the report from a task force chaired by Mary Jane England, M.D., president of Regis College in Weston, Mass., and a former president of APA. She spoke at a press conference in Washington, D.C., last month announcing the study's results.

The report estimates that there are 7.5 million parents with depression in the United States caring for 16 million children under age 18...

"We need to think about depressed parents as parents first and then as depressed people," added panel member William Beardslee, M.D., academic chair in the Department of Psychiatry at Children's Hospital Boston and the Gardner/Monks Professor of Child Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Current approaches to depression focus too narrowly on symptoms and diagnoses in individuals while ignoring broader effects on families. Existing screening, treatment, and research protocols, for instance, do not take into account the possibility that the patient is a parent.

The problem has received less attention than it should because it falls along the boundaries of professional and policy domains, from research to payment for services.

Read more HERE...
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