A Family History of Depression Linked With Higher Risk of Major Depression

By Rob Dillard - Last Updated: February 13, 2023

A new study finds a link between the risk of major depression (MD) with increased numbers of family members impacted by depression. The results appeared in JAMA Psychiatry.

“Major depression (MD) aggregates within families, but how family history of MD confers risk of MD over the life course is unclear. Such knowledge is important to identify and prevent possible depressogenic effects of family environment,” the researchers wrote.

In this cohort study, researchers analyzed 2,903,430 Danish citizens born from 1960 to 2003 with known parental identity. The population of interest were followed up from their 15th birthday until time of MD, censoring, or the end of the study, which was December 2018. They assessed for first-time MD using the International Classification of Diseases, Eighth Revision codes, with Multivariable Poisson regression used to estimate incidence rate ration (RR) of MD. The study data were analyzed between April 2022 and December 2022.

According to the results, for men, exposure to maternal, paternal, or full sibling MD were associated with a 2-times higher risk of MD (IRR=2.10 [95% CI, 2.02-2.19]; IRR, 2.04 [95% CI, 1.94-2.14]; IRR, 2.08 [95% CI, 1.97-2.19]) and the associated risk increased with number of affected family members, the researchers noted, adding that the pattern was similar for women.

“In this study, risk of MD was associated with increased numbers of affected family members but did not vary by gender or type of kinship. Exposure to family MD during childhood and adolescence was associated with increased risk,” the researchers concluded.




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