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Effects of Depression on Families Need to Be Addressed

Over 15 million children live with a depressed adult, study finds

THURSDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- Treating depression should incorporate strategies to detect and prevent the impact of the disease on patients' children, according to a June 10 report by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.

Mary Jane England, M.D., of Regis College in Weston, Mass., and colleagues write that approximately one in five parents are diagnosed with depression every year, and that approximately 15.6 million children under the age of 18 years live with about 7.5 million parents with major depression. Only one third of adults with depression get treated, partly due to lack of insurance as well as the stigma attached to mental illness, the authors state.

Counseling for fathers and mothers to build their coping and parenting skills, as well as treatment for children experiencing emotional or behavioral problems could help reduce the burden of parental depression on children, the researchers note.

"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," England said in a statement. "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."

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