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Impact of stressful life events, familial loading and their interaction on the onset of mood disorders: Study in a high-risk cohort of adolescent offspring of parents with bipolar disorder

  • Manon H. J. Hillegers (a1), Hubert Burger (a2), Marjolein Wals (a3), Catrien G. Reichart (a3), Frank C. Verhulst (a3), Willem A. Nolen (a4) and Johan Ormel (a5)...
Abstract
Background

Stressful life events are established as risk factors for the onset of mood disorders, but few studies have investigated their impact on the development of mood disorders in adolescents.

Aims

To study the effect of life events on the development of mood disorders in the offspring of parents with bipolar disorder, with respect to the possibility of a decay effect and modification by familial loading.

Method

In a high-risk cohort of 140 Dutch adolescent offspring of parents with bipolar disorder, we assessed life events, current and past DSM–IV diagnoses and familial loading. To explore their interaction and impact on mood disorder onset, we constructed four different models and used a multivariate survival analysis with time-dependent covariates.

Results

The relationship between life events and mood disorder was described optimally with a model in which the effects of life events gradually decayed by 25% per year. The effect of life event load was not significantly stronger in the case of high familial loading.

Conclusions

Independent of familial loading, life events increase the liability to mood disorders in children of patients with bipolar disorder but the effects slowly diminish with time.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
M. Hillegers, Altrecht Institute for Mental Health Care, Lange Nieuwstraat 119, 3512 PG Utrecht, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 302 3088888; e-mail: m.hillegers@altrecht.nl
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Declaration of interest

Supported by NWO (Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research) and the Stanley Medical Research Institute.

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References
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Impact of stressful life events, familial loading and their interaction on the onset of mood disorders: Study in a high-risk cohort of adolescent offspring of parents with bipolar disorder

  • Manon H. J. Hillegers (a1), Hubert Burger (a2), Marjolein Wals (a3), Catrien G. Reichart (a3), Frank C. Verhulst (a3), Willem A. Nolen (a4) and Johan Ormel (a5)...
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