Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Children of depressed parents take more trips to the doctor

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Did you know that nearly 1 in 2 parents may suffer from depression? That's an astounding number. A recent study followed 70,000 children, age birth to 17 years, to take a closer look at the health care utilization of parents with and without depression. About 1/3 of parents involved in the study had previously diagnosed depression.

What researchers found was the children of parents with depression were more likely to make trips to the ER, medical specialists, and to have more sick visits. Teenagers, especially, were found to have fewer well-child visits, but made more trips to the emergency room and to costly specialists. Infants of parents with depression, on the other hand, made 14% more sick visits to their doctors.

While the study didn't define the motivation behind the extra visits (Are children of depressed parents less healthy? Or do depressed parents have a higher level of anxiety so need reassurance more frequently? Or is there another cause?), it did make it clear that parents who suffer from mood disorders need more help. The next step for researchers is to find out what type of intervention will improve screening and treatment options for parents.

If you think you may at risk for depression, take a look at this Depression Symptoms Checklist and talk to your doctor if you fit the profile.

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