To examine psychopathology among parents of children and adolescents with separation anxiety disorder (SAD).
A case-control design was applied: parents of children and adolescents suffering from SAD (n = 30; age: 10.7 ± 1.8 a) were compared with parents of youth without any psychiatric disease (n = 30; age: 11.2 ± 1.8 a). The SCID-I, a structured clinical interview to assess psychopathology, was applied among the parents group.
Parents of children and adolescents suffering from SAD exhibited a significantly higher prevalence of psychopathology, mainly anxiety disorders and mood disorders, in comparison with the control group. Within anxiety disorders, mothers predominantly suffered from social phobia and specific phobia. Fathers most frequently suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and social phobia. Maternal anxiety disorder (current and lifetime) and maternal affective disorder (lifetime) proved to be significant predictors of SAD in youth.
The associations between parents’ psychopathology and the development of SAD in their children are discussed in the light of clinical implications, both in terms of psychotherapeutic care as well as treatment outcome.