Earlier studies have indicated associations between parental psychiatric problems, such as depression, and substance abuse and adolescent problems.
This study aimed to determine whether parental psychiatric problems are associated with problems and problem behaviour in adolescents in a clinical sample.
The study subjects were 70 outpatient adolescents (age 13-18 years, boys 30%) and their parents. The adolescents were assessed using the structural clinical interview for DSM-III-R (SCID) and a semi-structured questionnaire, and the parents were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire.
Maternal alcohol abuse and depression were associated with serious problems, especially among girls, and paternal alcohol abuse was associated with adolescent health-compromising behaviour. Maternal depression and alcohol abuse had no association with adolescent health-compromising behaviour. Maternal depression without alcohol abuse was associated with the diagnosis of major depressive disorder in adolescents, but not with other adolescent problems, while paternal depression without alcohol abuse was not associated with any adolescent problems.
Despite the small study sample, these findings indicate that parental psychiatric problems and alcohol abuse are correlated with adolescent psychological problems and should be considered and assessed when assessing adolescents.