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Parents with first time major depression : perceptions of social support for themselves and their children

Skärsäter, Ingela

Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)


The aim of this study was to ascertain the perceptions of parents, with first time major depression, regarding the social support for themselves and their children. Eighteen parents, with children under the age of 19, were interviewed on admission to an inpatient unit and of these 16 were followed up 1 year later. In addition, the severity of parents' depression and their functional status was measured. The results showed that although the parents did regain their mental health and functional capacity to a certain extent, they nevertheless remained in a vulnerable position, increasing the strain on the whole family. The parents' and their children's social support was low and came mostly from outside the family. The parents were worried about their children, due to problems related to the depressive episode as well as ordinary teenage rebellion. Important questions concerned practical problems such as whether there was someone to take care of the children if the parent is incapable of doing so. There were also concerns pertaining to how the changed family situation might interfere with the child's natural development or whether depression was a question of heredity. This highlights the need to investigate the importance of social support for the family as a whole when one of them suffers from depression. There is a need for improved treatment of parental depression to reduce symptoms such as decreased functional status that may impair parenting. The study also emphasises the need for healthcare practitioners to assess multiple aspects of social support so that care planning will target all relevant domains.

Nyckelord: children; depression; first episode; mental health care; nursing; social support

Citera: Skärsäter, Ingela, Parents with first time major depression: perceptions of social support for themselves and their children, Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences., 20:3, s. 308-314, 2006