TEEN DEPRESSION RESEARCH AT UH FOCUS OF
$500K GRANT FROM NIMH
Psychology Prof Studies Depression Predictors in Teens,
Transmission of Parental Mood Disorders
HOUSTON, Jan. 4, 2007 – Too often, teen depression goes
unnoticed or untreated. As a result, this clinical disorder can
linger long into adulthood having critical impact on one’s
life and family.
Thanks to a $525,000 grant from the National Institute of Mental
Health (NIMH), a University of Houston researcher is studying factors
that predict depression in teen-agers, as well as the transmission
of parental depression to children. The goal is to slow or even
stop depression trajectories in adolescents.
Jeremy Pettit, UH assistant professor of psychology, is reviewing
data that was collected as part of the Oregon Adolescent Depression
Project (OADP), which interviewed and surveyed 1,700 Oregon teens
for depression and other mood disorders. Based on the participants’
responses, Pettit is studying possible factors that predict depression
as teen-agers progress through early adulthood. Working with Pettit
are researchers from the Oregon Research Institute (ORI), which
initiated OADP during the 1980s.
“Depression predictors might be emotional, social or based
on one’s physical well-being. They can even be related to
one’s weight or school performance,” Pettit said. “Predictors
can help psychologists recognize teen-agers who need treatment and
prevent depression from affecting their lives as adults.”
Since the OADP began, researchers such as ORI scientist Peter Lewinsohn
have remained in contact with participants for updated evaluations.
In addition, participants’ parents and offspring have been
assessed for signs of depression. If data from these assessments
suggest that generational transmission of depression exists, Pettit
said, treatment can then be designed that would teach different
parenting skills or encourage behavior modification.
“I am focusing on identifying mechanisms in which parental
depression can be passed on to children and perhaps even grandchildren,”
Pettit said. “These include parents’ behavioral problems,
mental illness and substance abuse. If treatment is introduced during
parenthood’s early stages, then we can possibly stop the cycle
Pettit directs UH’s Mood Disorder and Suicide Research Program,
which investigates the causes and consequences of depression and
suicidal behaviors. The program examines depression from multiple
perspectives, mostly emphasizing on the interpersonal behaviors
that promote and maintain depression.
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research
and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers
and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate,
civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university
in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and
service with more than 35,000 students.
For more information about UH visit
the universitys Newsroom at www.uh.edu/admin/media/newsroom.