Impact of stressful life events, familial loading and their interaction on the onset of mood disorders - Study in a high-risk cohort of adolescent offspring of parents with bipolar disorder

MHJ Hillegers*, H Burger, M Wals, CG Reichart, FC Verhulst, WA Nolen, J Ormel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background Stressful life events are established as risk factors for the onset of mood disorders, but few studies have investigated their impact on the development of mood disorders in adolescents.

Aims To study the effect of life events on the development of mood disorders in the offspring of parents with bipolar disorder, with respect to the possibility of a decay effect and modification by familial loading.

Method In a high-risk cohort of 140 Dutch adolescent offspring of parents with bipolar disorder, we assessed life events, current and past DSM - IV diagnoses and familial loading. To explore their interaction and impact on mood disorder onset, we constructed four different models and used a multivariate survival analysis with time-dependent covariates.

Results The relationship between life events and mood disorder was described optimally with a model in which the effects of life events gradually decayed by 25% per year. The effect of life event load was not significantly stronger in the case of high familial loading.

Conclusions Independent of familial loading, life events increase the liability to mood disorders in children of patients with bipolar disorder but the effects slowly diminish with time.

Declaration of interest Supported by NWO (Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research) and the Stanley Medical Research Institute.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-101
Number of pages5
JournalThe British Journal of Psychiatry
Volume185
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2004

Keywords

  • CHILDREN
  • DEPRESSION
  • PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
  • DIFFICULTIES
  • NEUROTICISM
  • RELIABILITY
  • ADVERSITY
  • VALIDITY
  • ANXIETY

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