. "2 Approach to Research and Its Evaluation." Depression in Parents, Parenting, and Children: Opportunities to Improve Identification, Treatment, and Prevention. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009.
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Depression in Parents, Parenting, and Children: Opportunities to Improve Identification, Treatment, and Prevention
as a parent is maintained; all of these may be considered together in many studies. These complexities of depression are important in determining who is most impacted.
For screening programs, when an adult is identified as suffering from depression, it is important to identify if that adult is a parent, if the spouse/partner is also depressed, or if one or both are at risk for depression, has been diagnosed with depression, if both parents have been diagnosed with depression, or if one or both parents have been diagnosed with other comorbid conditions (i.e., substance use, trauma). Identification of these issues in both parents is necessary. It is also important to note when depression or symptoms of depression were identified in the parents: prenatal, postpartum, the first year of the child’s life, the first 3 years of the child’s life, the first 5 years of the child’s life, or throughout childhood into adolescence. However, the overriding concern with screening is the lack of available and effective resources and knowledge needed after an adult is identified with depression as a result of a screening procedure.
Processes of Risk and Resilience in Children of Depressed Parents
Closely related to etiology is consideration of factors that are associated with increased risk, as contrasted with resilience, among children of depressed parents. Kraemer and colleagues (1997) refer to risk as a predisposition of an individual or a population to a negative outcome. In the field of mental health, these negative outcomes can be measured in terms of the onset, severity, and duration of a disorder or the frequency and intensity of individual symptoms or clusters of symptoms. Individuals and populations at risk have an increased likelihood of developing symptoms or more severe pathology than the population as a whole (Rutter, 1987). The magnitude, or degree, of risk is measured by the probability of a specific negative outcome in the presence of a risk factor versus the probability when the risk factor is absent. The odds of adolescents developing depression are greater for those who are exposed to a parent with a history of depression compared with those whose parents have no such psychopathology.
A risk factor is a feature of an individual or the environment that increases the probability of the occurrence of a negative outcome. Risk factors, however, do not explain the processes through which these factors influence the likelihood of an undesirable outcome. In contrast, risk mechanisms or processes describe the intervening paths that connect risk conditions with specific dysfunctional outcomes (Garber, 2006). In the case of parental depression, it is not merely the presence of psychopathology in the parent that leads to psychopathology in the children, but the processes that result from the disorder (such as a biological predisposition, including