Time-varying effects of parental alcoholism on depression

Sunita Thapa, Arielle S. Selya, Yvonne Jonk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction Children of alcoholic parents are at increased risk for lifetime depression. However, little is known about how this risk may change in magnitude across age, especially in mid-adulthood and beyond. Methods We used a nationally representative sample (N = 36,057) of US adults from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, wave III. After adjusting for demographic characteristics, we examined the relationship between parental alcoholism and outcomes of 1) major depressive disorder, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5th edition (DSM-5) and 2) DSM-5 persistent depressive disorder. To examine continuous moderation of this relationship across participants' age, we used time-varying effect models. Results Parental alcoholism was associated in general with a higher risk for both major depressive disorder (odds ratio [OR], 1.98, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.85-2.11; P < .001) and persistent depressive disorder (OR, 2.28, 95% CI, 2.04-2.55; P < .001). The association between parental alcoholism and major depressive disorder was stable and positive across age, but the association with persistent depressive disorder significantly declined among older adults; respondents older than 73 years old were not at increased risk for persistent depressive disorder. Conclusions Findings from this study show that the risk of parental alcoholism on depression is significant and stable among individuals of a wide age range, with the exception of a decline in persistent depressive risk among older adults. These findings highlight the importance of screening for depression among adults with parental alcoholism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number170100
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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