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A Family Depression Prevention Program

July 2, 2019


Over 15 million adults in the United States are affected by depression. This is especially true during the child-bearing and child-rearing time of life. Children with depressed parents have a greater risk of experiencing depression. Thus, they are a primary target for preventive interventions. This study attempts to reduce the rate of depression in parents and children through an innovative, family-based approach. The rationale for this approach is based on a conceptual model that combines and includes parenting process, stress (particularly associated with parental depression), and the child’s self-regulatory skills when under stress. The study was inspired by evidence that depression runs in families, promising results from family-and-child-focused depression prevention programs, and evidence that adults who are treated through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) reduce the number of their depressive episodes and recurrence.


Study Information

This study is classified as randomized (participants are chosen by chance for treatment). It was a two-site controlled trial. It includes a Family Depression Prevention (FDP) program for children (ages 9 to 15) and their parents who have or had depressive disorders. All parents and children will be evaluated at pre- and post-intervention, and at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months from baseline.


Inclusion Criteria

  • Children from the age of 9 to 15 are allowed to participate. They must have a parent with a current or history of depressive disorder during the child’s life. Male and female children are allowed to participate.


Exclusion Criteria

  • Children or parents diagnosed as bipolar 1 or schizophrenic are not allowed to participate. Neither parent or child can have a current problem with alcohol or drug abuse. Children cannot have a conduct disorder, development disorder, or current diagnosis of depressive disorder.



The sponsor of this study is Vanderbilt University. They are assisted through collaboration with San Diego State University.

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