News Release

Association of family relationships during adolescence with later depression risk

Peer-Reviewed Publication

JAMA Network

Bottom Line: Positive family relationships during adolescence appeared to be associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms from adolescence to midlife in this observational study of about 18,000 adolescents followed up until they were 32 to 42 years old. The study examined differences between males and females in depressive symptoms by levels of positive family relationships during adolescence as measured by family cohesion (adolescent reports about how much their family understood them, had fun, and paid attention to them) and the absence of parent-child conflict (adolescent reports of a serious argument in the past month over their behavior). Family cohesion and the absence of parent-child conflict were associated with a lower risk of depression from adolescence into midlife. The reduction in depressive symptoms associated with positive adolescent family relationships was greater for females than males during adolescence and into the early 20s but then leveled out to be equally beneficial for males and females throughout young adulthood into midlife. Limitations of the study include a self-reported measure of depressive symptoms and preadolescent family relationships weren't examined.

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Authors: Ping Chen, Ph.D., and Kathleen Mullan Harris, Ph.D., of the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Editor's Note: The article contains conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.


Media advisory: To contact authors Ping Chen, Ph.D., and Kathleen Mullan Harris, Ph.D., email Melody Kramer at The full study is linked to this news release.

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