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Vol. 72, No. 2, 2003
Issue release date: March–April 2003
Psychother Psychosom 2003;72:102–106

Behavioral and Emotional Disturbances in the Offspring of Depressed Parents with Anger Attacks

Alpert J.E. · Petersen T. · Roffi P.A. · Papakostas G.I. · Freed R. · Smith M.M. · Spector A.R. · Nierenberg A.A. · Rosenbaum J.F. · Fava M.
Depression Clinical and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass., USA

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Background: To examine the emotional and behavioral characteristics of the offspring of depressed parents with and without anger attacks. Methods: Forty-three parents who met criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD) completed the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist – Parent Report Version (CBCL) for each of their birth children (n = 58, age range 6–17 years). Unpaired t tests were used to evaluate the CBCL scale score differences between children of parents with and children of parents without anger attacks. Baseline demographics and clinical differences between the two groups of parents were also evaluated. Results: Parents with anger attacks had a significantly younger age of onset of MDD. Offspring of depressed parents with anger attacks were found to have significantly lower social and school competency scale scores and higher scores for delinquency, attention problems, and aggressive behavior. In addition, this group was found to have a significantly higher total T score (a global measure of psychopathology). Conclusions: There are some important differences between offspring of depressed parents with and without anger attacks. This finding may be important in identifying and formulating intervention strategies for childhood problems in the offspring of depressed parents.

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