Objective: To examine the association between both parental and offspring depression and the general medical problems of a sample of offspring at high and low risk for depression.
Method: Offspring (n = 222) from families with either depressed or nondepressed parents were followed up for a period of 10 years. Data collected included psychiatric diagnoses derived from direct semistructured interviews and history of general medical problems and hospital visits. Rates of medical problems and hospitalizations were calculated, and offspring were stratified by depression status of both parent and offspring.
Results: In analyses controlled for sociodemographic factors, offspring depression status was associated with a history of genitourinary disorders, headaches, respiratory disorders, other disorders, and hospitalizations in the offspring, and parental depression was associated with a history of unconsciousness and hospitalization in the offspring. After subjects were stratified by parental depression, significant associations between offspring depression and medical problems were found for only those offspring with a depressed parent.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that a history of parental depression increases the risk for medical problems and hospitalization among depressed offspring. The co-occurrence of general medical and psychological problems among offspring of depressed parents may have implications for the treatment of both depression and comorbid medical disorders.