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Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



Lee N. Robins, David J. Pittman, Donald E. Strickland


English (en)

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-1989

Degree Type

Restricted Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This retrospective case control study assessed the effect of parental alcoholism and depression on major depressive disorder in female and alcohol abuse and/or dependence in male offspring. A sample of 169 persons (18-49 years) was selected from the Epidemiological Catchment Area Project and included 33 alcoholics, 38 depressives and 98 controls matched for age and sex. The Home Environment Interview obtained information on the home environment between 6 and 13 years of age. Risk factors evaluated included parental symptoms, marital conflict and poor parenting practices (unfair discipline, severe punishment, inconsistent treatment, excessive restrictiveness, and lack of positive parenting). The risk for depression in female offspring was increased when a parent was depressed, especially the mother. Alcoholism in fathers was not related to the mild type of alcoholism found in this sample of males. Having two affected parents did not increase the risk for either disorder. Respondents with affected parents more often reported siblings with the same disorder as parents. Parental symptoms did not influence the age of onset nor the severity of either disorder in offspring, except that more depressives with depressive than with asymptomatic mothers reported marital separations and divorces. Among female offspring of depressive mothers, depressives experienced more separations and divorces than controls. Symptomatic parents were more likely to have had marital conflict and to have used poor parenting practices. Parental marital conflict did not increase the risk of fathers' symptoms for alcoholism in sons, but did increase the risk of mothers' symptoms for depression in daughters. Severe punishment and lack of positive parenting were independent risk factors for alcoholism in males. Severe punishment, inconsistent treatment and lack of positive parenting added to the risk for depression posed by mothers' symptoms. The risk for depression was significantly increased when mothers had depressive symptoms regardless of whether or not mothers had marital conflict or used any one or combination of the poor parenting practices.


Permanent URL: Print version available in library catalog at Call #: LD5791.8 PhD89 H65 . Binding title: Risks for alcholism and depression.

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