Bidirectional relations between parental symptoms of personality disorders and child symptoms of anxiety and depression
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- Institutt for psykologi 
Earlier cross-sectional studies have reported associations between parental symptoms of personality disorders and mental health problems in children. However, it cannot be precluded that mental health problems in children may aggravate symptoms of personality disorders in parents; just as parents’ personality disorders may influence their children’s mental health. To discern the order of alleged cause and effect prospective studies are needed. However, no longitudinal study has investigated reciprocal relationships between parental personality disorder symptoms and child internalizing symptoms. This study therefore explored, for the first time, bidirectional relations between parental personality disorder symptoms and child internalizing symptoms by means of a longitudinal design. The study was conducted on a large, representative community sample from the city of Trondheim, Norway. Parents` self-reported symptoms of personality disorders were measured with the DSM-IV and ICD-10 Personality Questionnaire (DIP-Q) and child anxiety and depression symptoms were assessed by the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment interview (PAPA). Data was collected when children were 4 (N = 997) and 6 years old (N = 797) respectively. Analyses were conducted using an autoregressive cross-lagged model. Results showed that parental symptoms of cluster C personality disorder predicted symptoms of anxiety and depression in their children over and above children’s initial level of anxiety and depression. Moreover, child anxiety symptoms predicted symptoms of parental cluster C personality disorders even when initial level of such personality disorder symptoms were adjusted for, thus suggesting a bidirectional relationship between parental symptoms of cluster C personality disorders and anxiety symptoms in children. This finding underlines that symptoms of psychopathology can aggravate within a family. Findings are discussed in relation to relevant data and clinical implications.