Offspring of depressed and anxious patients: Help-seeking after first onset of a mood and/or anxiety disorder

Petra J Havinga, Catharina A Hartman, Ellen Visser, Maaike H Nauta, Brenda W J H Penninx, Lynn Boschloo, Robert A Schoevers

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Offspring of patients with depressive and/or anxiety disorders are at high risk of developing a similar disorder themselves. Early recognition and treatment may have substantial effects on prognosis. The main aim of this study was to examine the time to initial help-seeking and its determinants in offspring after the first onset of a mood and/or anxiety disorder.

METHODS: Data are presented of 215 offspring with a mood and/or anxiety disorder participating in a cohort study with 10 year follow-up. We determined age of disorder onset and age of initial help-seeking. Offspring characteristics (gender, IQ, age of onset, disorder type, suicidal ideation) and family characteristics (socioeconomic status, family functioning) were investigated as potential predictors of the time to initial help-seeking.

RESULTS: The estimated overall proportion of offspring of depressed/anxious patients who eventually seek help after onset of a mood and/or anxiety disorder was 91.9%. The time to initial help-seeking was more than two years in 39.6% of the offspring. Being female, having a mood disorder or comorbid mood and anxiety disorder (relative to anxiety) and a disorder onset in adolescence or adulthood (relative to childhood) predicted a shorter time to initial help-seeking.

LIMITATIONS: Baseline information relied on retrospective reports. Age of onsets and age of initial help-seeking may therefore be subject to recall bias.

CONCLUSION: Although most offspring eventually seek help after onset of a mood/anxiety disorder, delays in help-seeking were common, especially in specific subgroups of patients. This information may help to develop targeted strategies to reduce help-seeking delays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-626
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


The ARIADNE and NESDA study protocols were both approved by the Medical Ethics Committee of the University Medical Center Groningen and have therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. ARIADNE was funded by the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO-MW). The infrastructure for the NESDA study ( ) has been funded through the Geestkracht program of the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (Zon-Mw, grant number 10-000-1002 ) and participating universities (VU University Medical Center, Leiden University Medical Center, University Medical Center Groningen ).

FundersFunder number
Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research


    Dive into the research topics of 'Offspring of depressed and anxious patients: Help-seeking after first onset of a mood and/or anxiety disorder'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this