Psychological Medicine

Research Article

Early parental death and adult depression

Alec Roya1 c1

a1 Neurosciences Branch, National Institutes of Mental Health Bethesda, Maryland, USA


In a matched controlled clinical study of 300 neurotic depressives collected over 6 years, 13% had experienced parental death before 17 years of age compared with 10·7% of the controls; this difference was not significant. There were no significant differences between the two groups when maternal or paternal death was examined separately either before 11 or 17 years of age. Thus the experience of parental death as a child is not in itself a risk factor for neurotic depression as seen in psychiatric patients.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Alec Roy, National Institutes of Mental Health, Neurosciences Branch, Building 10, Room 4N214, Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20205, USA