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Depression in the Family

  • By: Sarah W. Whitton
  • In: Encyclopedia of Family Health
  • Edited by: Martha Craft-Rosenberg & Shelley-Rae Pehler
  • Subject:Family Health, Family Policy, Family Law

Depression, or major depressive disorder, is a psychiatric disorder characterized by persistent sadness or anhedonia (i.e., lack of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities) lasting 2 weeks or longer, which is accompanied by other symptoms, including changes in appetite and/or sleep, lack of energy, feeling guilty or worthless, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and thoughts of death or suicide. Depression is a major stressor for families: It interferes with relationships between spouses and between parents and their children. At the same time, dysfunctional family relationships contribute to the development and persistence of depression in individual family members. After briefly describing the prevalence and societal costs of depression, this entry describes the bidirectional links between family relationship quality and depression, emphasizing the implications of these ...

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