This paper highlights the most recent publications, in the field of psychiatry, on offspring of patients with psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and then summarizes what we know about the progeny of adults with mood disorders, the most prevalent of parental disorders. Studies examining personality disorders and contextual factors such as stress and trauma are examined with a focus on the crucial question of development and attachment status in children. Findings converge to reveal that offspring of parents (generally mothers) with most major psychiatric disorders present a higher risk for all mental disorders, and a wide range of disorders are also found in children, adolescent, and finally adult offspring of mothers with mood and anxiety disorders. Developmental psychopathology and infant and child psychiatry have focused on early relationship formation through social interaction and attachment patterns as pathways affected by vulnerability or resilience factors. First year of life longitudinal studies following mothers and infants has shown that maternal psychopathology is positively correlated with higher risk of attachment issues. It would seem that pathology appears when adaptation to real-life contexts becomes difficult in association with an accumulation of negative individual characteristics and environmental circumstances. We suggest that in order to move forward psychiatry should embrace a developmental cascade model, which posits a cumulative pathway for the emergence of psychopathology in the developing child. We propose that we have sufficient knowledge today to start implementing multilevel approaches to enhance the health and mental health of the next generation.
Current Psychiatry Reports – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 23, 2017
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