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New family-focused model of depression care needed to minimize risks
Date:6/10/2009

WASHINGTON -- Health and social service professionals who care for adults with depression should not only tackle their clients' physical and mental health, but also detect and prevent possible spillover effects on their children, says a new report from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. To achieve this new family-focused model of depression care, federal and state agencies, nonprofits, and the private sector will have to experiment with nontraditional ways of organizing, paying for, and delivering services, said the committee that wrote the report.

Depression affects roughly 7.5 million parents -- about one in five -- in the United States annually, and about 15.6 million children under 18 live with an adult who has had major depression in the past year, the report notes. Effective tools and strategies exist to treat and prevent depression, but only one-third of adult sufferers get treatment. Although many factors affect children's development, parental depression can increase the chances for health, emotional, and behavioral problems in children. The report does not suggest that every parent with depression will inadvertently or deliberately cause harm to their children, but rather that parental depression increases the risks for spillover consequences during critical periods of child and adolescent development.

"To break the vicious circle of depression, we need to refocus our view of this illness through a broader lens that sees the whole family, not just the individual with depression," said committee chair and psychiatrist Mary Jane England, president, Regis College, Weston, Mass. "Our report describes a new vision for depression care that would provide comprehensive services not just to adults, but to their children as well. It will take significant policy changes to make this vision a reality, but the benefits warrant the effort."

Endeavors to increase the family focus on depression should aim to
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Contact: Christine Stencel
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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