Many children of depressed parents are at risk of poor functioning but few studies have followed them into adulthood to see how they are doing then. A study of 476 people in the U.S. compared the children of depressed parents with a control group. Children with depressed parents were more likely to be depressed themselves and to suffer from disability and obtained more help for mental-health problems. They also reported more severe recent stressors but were more likely to use positive thinking and seek alternative rewards in order to cope. There was no difference in the levels of other mental-health problems, physical functioning and pain, social functioning and hospitalizations and medication use for depression. Adult children of parents who had still not recovered from their depression were the most likely to show impaired functioning compared to the control group.
Timko, C. ... [et al] - Functioning status of adult children of depressed parents: a 23-year follow up Psychological Medicine March 2008, 38(3), 343-352