Chapter 42. Children of Parents With Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Disorders

William R. Beardslee, M.D.; Jacqueline L. Martin, Ph.D.
DOI: 10.1176/appi.books.9781585623921.466783



In clinical practice, it is common to encounter parents with either medical or psychiatric illness or both. Working with parents with such illnesses provides an important opportunity to help both parents and their children. In this chapter, we address two areas. First, we discuss parental mental illness that places families at higher risk for the development of disorder in children and at the same time provides an important opportunity for preventive intervention. Using children of parents with depression as a model, we specifically discuss risk factors, protective factors, and resilience and review prevention programs. We outline prevention programs that have been developed for families with anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders. Second, we address directly what clinicians can do when they encounter parents with mental illness in their practice, based on both clinical experience and the research on preventive intervention. We have not focused on medical illness, although we believe many of the same principles apply, given many studies include parents who have both mental and physical illness.

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Table Reference Number
TABLE 42–1. Specific and nonspecific risks for depression and other disorders


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Which of the following interventions for families at high risk because of parental mental illness is supported by the Institute of Medicine Committee on Prevention?
There are several well-established risk factors for depression and other disorders. Some of them are specific for depression. All of the following are specific risks for depression except
Children growing up with parents with a psychiatric disorder are at significantly higher risk of developing a mental disorder during their life span. All of the following statements regarding risks and outcomes are correct except
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