nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Kids With Depressed Parents Have Problems...uh, Yeah, and We Can Treat Them.

In an article published in the Los Angeles Times (Mar 15), the author, and those ready-and-willing professionals who treat all the Difficulties of Life, make the usual case that we are all sick and making each other sick and only need to get help.

The extended column hits all the Pop Psychology data:  "serious depression affects about one in five American parents, and 15.6 million children live with an adult who has had major depression in the last year."  There's no reference to a specific study for this, nor is there a definition of what "serious" depression is.  Most of us have gone through periods where things are really bad and we're down about it--a condition called reactive depression--but that's, kinda', the normal reaction.  It can be serious, but most of us climb out of it.  My guess is that people who have life-long major depression are much less common.

Soon we will have support groups for Children of Depressed Parents, like we do for children of alcoholics.

I'm forming a support group for Children of Near-Normal Parents.  I think we deserve a little attention too--for putting up with the sometimes boring regularity and stability of always knowing your parents were there for you, and loved you.   Wait, I think many of the depressed parents were that way, too, despite their own problems.  OK, I withdraw the suggestion.  It's not sexy enough, anyway.  Unless we can come up with a better title (like Children of Social Phobia Parents).

Sarcasm aside, it's not easy to be a child when parents have problems.  We need better data than this to know who and what to target.  We can't treat the kids of every fifth family.  In some of these cases a different cause may be present: there's no reason that depression-prone parents can't pass on those traits.  Admittedly, proving partial genetic influences is difficult, but to the extent that's a possibility it would significantly affect how you approached a problem in the child.

So, stand by for better research, and resist the temptation to label everything a disease.

Opinions are entirely my own.

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