The Intergenerational Transmission of Depression and Anxiety: Differences across Boys vs Girls as well as Paternal vs Maternal Depression and Anxiety
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Parental depression and anxiety can affect offspring and increase their chances of having depression and anxiety disorders. Girls have a higher chance of developing depression and anxiety, and the transmission from parents is also higher than for males. The current study addresses the hypothesis that (a) girls show more depression and anxiety symptoms than boys; (b) the offspring of mothers with depression and anxiety display more depression and anxiety symptoms than the offspring of fathers with depression and anxiety; and (c) the association between offspring gender and the depression and anxiety symptoms is dependent on the gender of the affected parent. For the hypotheses testing, results were taken from the ARIADNE (“Adolescents at Risk of Anxiety and Depression; A combined Neurobiological and Epidemiological approach”) study. A total of 412 offspring and their parents’ information was eligible for analysis within this research. For hypothesis (a), the results demonstrate that female offspring had a higher mean and prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms. For hypothesis (b), the children of mothers with depression or anxiety do not show more depression or anxiety symptoms than the children of fathers with depression or anxiety. For hypothesis (c), the affected parents’ sex is not significant in offspring association with depression and anxiety symptoms. The current study showed that female offspring show a higher mean across all the symptoms that were in this study. Female offspring had a higher prevalence of almost all the symptoms, and the highest prevalence for girls was a 3-fold increase for feeling worthless. This could be because the symptoms of depression and anxiety examined in this study are more in line with female symptoms than male symptoms, showing a higher mean and prevalence for girls. Also, parental sex does not differ in the influence on the offspring's depression and anxiety symptoms, and it could be because previous studies show that paternal influence is stronger in the postnatal stage which could equalize the influence of parental sex. Lastly, parental sex interaction with offspring is not enough of interaction to influence the offspring's depression and anxiety symptoms and there must be other factors.