Depression and Self-esteem in Adult Children of Alcoholics and Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families
Christensen, Sue Ann
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The problem. The purpose of this study was to assess whether ACAs have specific characteristics or problems directly related to parental alcoholism or whether they are simply a subset of a larger group of adult children from dysfunctional families. It was hypothesized that participants from dysfunctional families would have more depression and less self-esteem than participants from functional families, regardless of parental alcoholism, and that females would have higher levels of depression than males. Procedure. The sample was composed of 201 participants (73 males, 127 females, 1 no gender available) assigned to one of four groups according to parental alcoholism and family functioning. Findings. Adult children of dysfunctional families reported more depression and lower self-esteem than the adult children of functional families, regardless of parental alcoholism, with adult children from dysfunctional: families having similar levels of depression and self-esteem. No gender differences were found for depression or self-esteem. Conclusions. The findings of this study indicated that family dysfunction predicted psychological distress (i.e., higher levels of depression and lower self-esteem), regardless of parental alcoholism. Recommendations. It may be more beneficial to focus research efforts on the effects of family functionality, rather than on a particular population (e.g. Adult Children of Alcoholics).
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