Violence, Depression in Parents Linked to Kids’ ADHD, Depression


A prospective study of 2,422 children from 2004 to 2012 found that children whose parents reported Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and depressive symptoms were 4x more likely to have a diagnosis of ADHD, even after adjusting for other variables. Children of parents who reported depressive symptoms alone were 2x more likely to have been prescribed medication.

Abstract →

Bauer, N., Gilbert, A., Carroll, A., Associations of Early Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence and Parental Depression With Subsequent Mental Health Outcomes. JAMA Pediatrics. Online February 4, 2013

Of further interest:
Parents’ Depression, Violence Tied to ADHD in Kids (WebMD)

Previous article“Special K” as Antidepressant: Short-term Gain; Long-term ?
Next articleRedemption Songs: Music and Madness
Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. This should be kind of a no-brainer, but it isn’t for some reason. Kids who grow up abused and neglected in any way are more likely to be diagnosed ADHD and depressed and anxious and psychotic. But the current model divorces symptoms from causes, so we try to make the symptoms go away.

    In a way, this should be big news, because it belies the “ADHD is purely biological” argument. But in another way, it’s so obvious that it shouldn’t have to be news. Anyone using their brain can see it if they simply look. Unfortunately, most of the mental health community continues to have their eyes shut.

    —- Steve

    Report comment

  2. Violence? Abuse? The effects on a person’s mind, body and soul?

    Destructive. Neglect, violence, abuse … doesn’t just cause DISEASE and dysfunction. It can destroy somebody. Some people become an empty shell. Easy to spiritually possess an empty shell of a human. Oh, is the scientific community going to DENY that spiritual possessions can and do happen?

    Thanks for all your help, psychiatry.


    Report comment

  3. This is unfortunately just an affirmation that has long been known to psychiatry. Many years ago, a Social Worker in Michigan Selma Fraiberg worked with mothers who recently had given birht. The mothers were considered at risk for abuse and or neglect. The program she launched was to mother the mother. There was a wonderful article about this process. There was a great effort in the days of “The Great Society” movement to incorporate her work and others such as Fritz Reidl (sp?) into community programs.Sadly the interest waned and those programs are few. Most were for folks from lower socio-economic areas.
    I think some of the reason the programs based on this approach did not continue was that there were issues in all the socioeconomic areas. Look at the family history of royal families. Money does not prevent emotional turmoil in families. I think the writings of Alice Miller are relevant here.
    This path creates fear because we as professionals have to look at our own families. It is hard to read this article as a parent with mental health issues because it painfully hits home.
    I think everyone needs to take this element into account. Divisiveness never helps. Let’s see if we can all collectively take a breath and begin to hold hands and walk the walk where all parents regardless of creed, race , status,gender, are given hands to hold them up during tough times. The mother crying in suburbia is not that far away from the mother in an urban center crying. Johanna Macy in “Active Hope” talks about the Great Turning. I think this area fits very well in her conception of forces for positive change for our world.

    Report comment

    • Well said. Admitting to this means we can’t distance ourselves from our clients so effectively, because we also have suffered and have our own dysfunction and pain. To truly be conscious of the impact of abuse and neglect, we have to face our own demons, and that is painful. Alice Miller totally got it right. If we are unable or unwilling to face our own losses, we act out our pain on our clients as a means of distancing it from ourselves. That seems to be what psychiatry and much of psychology has descended to – a big, complex psychological defense mechanism against recognizing that “they” are no different than “us.” Which is the exact opposite of what really helps those who come to us seeking help.

      — Steve

      Report comment

      • One of the facts of the human condition is that we are all “wounded,” we all carry albatroses around our necks, whether we allow others to see it dangling there or not. The best “healers” are those who accept their own woundedness and embrace it. Then they’re not scared by the woundedness that they see in everyone around them.

        The best healing staff in psychiatric hospitals are those who say, when looking at those they care for, “Ah, there by the grace of God goes me,” instead of “Ah, there but for the grace of God goes me.”

        Report comment

  4. Yes and what has been so hard for me as an avid seeker of appropriate treatment has been the clear lack of in depth understanding not only of psychological concepts – but family therapy constructs, and cultural understandings with some of the Mental Health professionals – especially most of the psychiatrists that I have had to use. I regret I lost the last decade to the use of medication which ultimately caused more harm than good.It was very frustrating to be put under the care of a doc who had much less training and intellectual understanding than yourself.When I worked I had great respect from my colleagues.

    In my Mental Health travails, there were many times I did not feel respected in any way, shape, or form. And I agree- some of this was the almost automatic cultural distancing and complete and utter lack of knowledge of the work and writings of Anna Freud’s psychological defense mechanisms. My story hit far too close to home and many were and almost all have been unable to be brave enough to admit this to me.

    Report comment

  5. So there was an interest in “mothering the mother” amid the great society and then interest waned? What I heard about the great society was that this “welfare establishment” developed that became very interested in monopolizing federal funds for themselves, and I’m talking about employees and various corrupt profiteers attached to the welfare system sometimes more or less loosely.

    You ended up with mass incarceration which is feeds a hugely profitable prison industry which profits off of distinction. And, some of the housing projects out there are not much better than prisons. The problem with federal money is that it is so easy for corruption to develop. Before the great society welfare systems were administered by the states — and there was all sorts of corruption and abuse. It was very obvious too given how one state might vary from another depending on the political conditions in each. So the Feds step in but corruption is something that is not limited to the states, but it takes time to develop. It seems that it is only a matter of time before it will develop.

    Government has always been this way throughout history. Thing is, when individual states are more powerful, yes they are corrupt because there is huge variation from one state to another, and people exchange information. Good example is lead paint and childhood lead poisoning. In states with older housing stock and tight housing markets — eg real estate interests have potential to make lots of money off new construction, those states have distorted the science somewhat in order to falsely blame lead poisoning on lead paint, and mandated very expensive deleading procedures dangerous to children but which helps to prop up the price of new construction painted with non lead based paint. Other states without the same market and corresponding political conditions actually ban some of those procedures because studies have found time and time again they not only do not protect against lead poisoning but often cause it.

    So if you look at the variation from one state to the other between lead paint laws, and what the state “experts” claim the truth is, it is readily obvious there is serious amount of corruption. The temptation is towards the federal government applying a uniform code. When it does so, the uniformity of the policy makes it much harder to see how it might be influenced by corruption. You’d have to compare the USA to Mexico, Canada, or Europe to see it. And I think corruption gets worse always when it is the least noticeable. With regard to lead paint laws, I do know the truth is slowly prevailing and various states feel compelled to recognize reality. Partly because various parties can point out the differences between each state and in some cases force entrenched interests to cave.

    I believe the European healthcare system is less corrupt than the USA because, though they are all government run in Europe, each different country has its own system, and each country is right next to one another, information is shared from one country to another, and reality or the truth has an easier way of influencing policy. The USA is isolated from the rest of the world with power centralized in Washington.

    Report comment