Offspring of parents with mental health problems vulnerable to the full spectrum of mental disorders
18 August 2010
New IoP research has found that offspring of parents with a mental disorder are not only at risk of mental disorders similar to that of their parents but are at risk of a further range of disorders.
The study suggests that the causes of mental disorder, whether genetic or environmental, are not necessarily specific to particular diagnoses. It might also provide evidence for questioning the way we classify mental disorders in the lead up to the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is currently being revised.
Dr Kimberlie Dean, a Senior Clinical Lecturer at the IoP, who led the study, said: 'It is well known that offspring of parents with a psychiatric illness are more likely to themselves suffer from mental health problems, particularly as a result of genetic factors passed from parent to child. What is most well established is the increased risk of offspring developing the same or a similar disorder to their parents but less is known about the extent of shared risk across the full range of mental disorders.'
The study was based in Denmark where a wide range of information is routinely collected on all individuals in the population.
The researchers selected a sample of over 800 000 offspring born between 1980 and 1994 and then examined rates of contact with mental health services for each individual from their 14th birthday until the end of the study follow-up period at the end of 2008. Those with two mentally disordered parents were at particularly high risk – 25% of men and almost 40% of women with two parents diagnosed with severe mental disorders (schizophrenia or bipolar disorder) had contact with mental health services during the study and although they had high rates of severe mental disorders, they also had high rates of substance misuse, personality disorders and anxiety disorders, for example.
‘Full spectrum of psychiatric outcomes among offspring with parental history of mental disorder’ was published in the August edition of Archives of General Psychiatry:http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/67/8/822?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Full+spectrum+of+psychiatric+outcomes+among+offspring+with+parental+history+of+mental+disorder%92+&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT