Neighborhood, Family Strongly Influence Mental Health in Youths

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A long-term study of children who were followed for more than 10 years has found that both the kind of neighborhood they live in as well as family environment have profound effects on whether they will be afflicted by mental illnesses.

Jan Sundquist, MD, PhD, of Lund University in Sweden, and colleagues tracked more than 542,000 Swedish children over 11 years for internalizing (anxiety and mood) and externalizing (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD] and conduct) disorders. Overall, 4.8% of the children were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

Children who came from disadvantaged neighborhoods, however, were twice as likely to have a conduct disorder, had a 40% increased risk of an anxiety disorder and a 20% higher risk of mood disorders, the researchers reported in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. In moderately disadvantaged neighborhoods, children there had a 30% increased risk for ADHD.

Regarding externalizing disorders, 43.5% of individual variance was attributed to family level and 5.5% to neighborhood level. And 29% of individual variance in internalizing disorders was due to family level, including both genetic and family environmental effects, and 5% was attributed to neighborhood level.

The researchers suggested that their findings should help shape policies to promote mental health by factoring in influences from family and neighborhood environments.

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Neighborhood, Family Strongly Influence Mental Health in Youths

A team of researchers from Sweden and the United States have examined the potential role of the family environment and neighborhood factors on mental health outcomes in a new study published in Journal of Psychiatric Research.

Key findings from the study include that high neighborhood deprivation was associated with a 2-fold higher risk of conduct disorder, a 40% increased risk of anxiety disorder and a 20% increased risk of mood disorders, after adjustment for individual factors. Moderate neighborhood deprivation was associated with a 30% increased risk of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, after adjustments.

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