This is an archived article.

April 21, 2003

240 families sought for study of childhood depression, conduct disorder

Psychologists at the University of Washington trying to understand the underlying causes of childhood and adolescent depression and conduct disorder are looking for 240 Seattle-area 8- to 12-year-olds and one of their parents to participate in a new study.

The research is part of a $1.4 million project funded by the National Institute of Mental Health to understand these conditions alone and in combination, according to Theodore Beauchaine, UW assistant professor of psychology.

Families selected for the study can earn $375 if they complete four interviews and laboratory sessions during a three-year period. Parents will participate in extensive family history interviews and the children will be given a series of psychological tests. Some will gather physiological data –cardiac, respiration and skin conductivity information –while the children play video games and watch emotionally happy and sad film clips. All of the testing and interviews will be conducted on the UW’s Seattle campus.

Children with depression tend to have such symptoms as fatigue, low energy, irritability and feelings of worthlessness. Those with conduct disorder can exhibit defiance, obstinacy, and aggression. Beauchaine is looking for 80 children who are depressed, 80 who have conduct disorder and 80 who have both conditions. In addition, he is seeking another 80 youngsters for a control group who do not fit the criteria for depression or conduct disorder.

“Depression and conduct disorder tend to co-occur at fairly high rates in young people and we are trying to disentangle the two so we can determine which is the primary problem,” said Beauchaine. “That way we can treat the primary problem in individual cases.”

He added that when conduct disorder and depression are experienced together, children have an increased risk for social rejection, substance use, anxiety disorders and suicide.

Parents who study may obtain more information or volunteer for the study by calling (206) 543-8844 or e-mailing ehonrado@u.washington.edu. Information also is available at http://tbeauchaine.psych.washington.edu/CAAP/Default.htm

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For more information, contact Beauchaine at (206) 685-2734 or tbeaucha@u.washington.edu