Final Phase of STAR*D Study Show’s Positive Results for Depression

The country’s largest clinical study on depression, the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression, or STAR*D, began in 1999 and concluded this month. The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The latest phase in the study addressed the relation of a child’s psychological state to his mother’s rate of improvement. The findings revealed that when a mother recovers from depression, her child makes significant behavioral improvements even twelve months after the mother ends her treatment. Co-author Madhukar Trivedi, professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern said, “It is very rare to treat a patient and have an impact on people around the patient that is this significant. While the effect in the short term is clearly robust, the bigger issue is that this effect is long-lasting,” he said. “One year after their mothers’ remissions, these children continued to show further improvement. This is almost unbelievable.”

Statistics show that almost nine percent of adolescents in the United States show symptoms of depression, and almost three percent of children are depressed. Additional research has shown that depressive symptoms appear earlier than in past years, and the depression often presents with other mental issues such as substance abuse, aggression or anxiety.

In a related article, Dr. Trivedi said, “For kids’ sakes, we should be very aggressive in treating patients, particularly mothers. The more improved care we can provide to depressed mothers, the greater extent we can positively benefit their children.” These recent results showed a direct link between the decrease of the child’s symptoms, both social functioning and depressive symptoms, and the amount of time it took for the mother to recover. When the mother remitted during the first twelve weeks, children showed improvement for a period extending past twelve months. Dr. Trivedi concluded, “The take-home message is this: The faster we can get mothers better, the greater impact on their children.”

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Tracey Jules

    Tracey Jules

    May 12th, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    That a child would feel and behave better when both parents are free of any disorder and at home is a given.But a mother’s depression and it’s treatment having an effect on the child is something that is truly amazing.

    It’s not easy to give the reason for why this happens but I am happy that we now at least have the finding so more and more parents would now seek help for their own depression because it would not only benefit them but their children as well.

  • Robyn

    Robyn

    May 13th, 2011 at 4:28 AM

    For anyone who has ever thought or said that a parent’s behavior or mood does not affect that of the child, this is your proof that that premise is unreliable and untrue! When kids improve and show significant gains when the parents do, then you know that there is a correlation there.

  • Vf Gv

    Vf Gv

    May 13th, 2011 at 7:04 AM

    I agree with you Robyn. And this is why parent’s behavior also matters. And this stems from their habits and other things. So you know it is not trash when they speak of parent’s bad habits and lack of attention leading to problems in the kids.

  • jocelyn

    jocelyn

    May 15th, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    Good on them for realizing that depressed parents can result in depressed children, proving it, and making people aware of it instead of leaving it all up to speculation. No one in their right mind can possibly argue with such a lengthy study. With 12 years of research behind their findings, you have to give the results weight.

  • Nigel

    Nigel

    May 15th, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    Depression is contagious. Be around someone who has it long enough and they’ll start wearing you down too along with them. Assuming you can stay with them long term that is. Some women’s mood issues have made me leave them. The poor kids don’t have that option. Good to know things can and will get better as their mother does.

  • Jeremy

    Jeremy

    May 15th, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    @Nigel: That’s rather selfish isn’t it? Ditching women because they are depressed is just going to make them worse. You do have to protect yourself but there’s no reason to completely leave them. Even if they’re the type to ignore all the signs and not get help you could stick with them and encourage that they seek it. Or maybe you need to ask yourself what attracts you to depressed women in the first place, hmm?

  • Stan

    Stan

    May 15th, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    This result is obvious but at the same time heavily overlooked. The number of depression sufferers in a country is a crystal-clear indicator of how their nation’s economy is functioning imho. Those with insurmountable debts, lack of educational resources and no or dead-end jobs are very likely to wind up depressed. Add on keeping the kids happy and it turns into considerable pressure. It’s a shame children are affected by something they have no control over, although good news there that there is hope for an improved home life further down the line.

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