Psychosocial Adjustment of Adolescent Children of a Depressed, Arthritic, or Normal Parent

Barton J. Hirsch*, Rudolf H. Moos, Thomas M. Reischl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study examined the joint effects of having a parent with a psychological or physical disability and of stressful life events on the mental health of schoolage adolescents. Three groups of adolescents were compared: 16 adolescent children of a depressed parent, 16 adolescent children of a parent with rheumatoid arthritis, and 16 adolescent children of parents free from psychological or physical disability. In contrast to the normal group, children of an arthritic parent reported lower self-esteem, whereas children of a depressed parent reported both lower self-esteem and more symptomatology. However, the two risk groups did not differ in terms of mental health or family and school adjustment. Both negative and positive life events were strongly related to poorer adjustment, but only for the depressed and arthritic groups. There was a significant interaction effect of parental disability (depressed vs. normal) and negative life events on symptomatology, with adolescent children of a depressed parent who experienced few negative life events reporting symptom levels equivalent to that of the normal group. Within-group analyses revealed that a positive family social climate was related to better adjustment among all three groups; satisfactory school involvements were related to better adjustment among the depressed and normal groups. The implications of these findings for understanding adolescent mental health and for planning future risk research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-164
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Volume94
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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