Document Type

Honors Thesis




Mary Tedesco-Schneck

Committee Members

Cynthia Erdley, Melissa Ladenheim, Annie Smith

Graduation Year

December 2023

Publication Date

Fall 12-2023


Depression is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses in the United States (US), and a significant number of depressed adults are parents to children who depend on them for care and nurturing. Research on parental depression (PD) focuses predominantly on its impacts on children and adolescents and has shown many negative outcomes as well as a predisposition to developing depression themselves. The literature on the impact of parental depression on young adults and college students is scant. Young adults (ages 18- 25) experience the highest rates of depression, and many of these individuals enter college where they are continuing to experience depression at alarmingly increasing rates. The transition to college is accompanied by many stressors, and it is important to understand the impact of living with a parent with depression on this transition. This descriptive study used an anonymous online survey to ask first-year college students at the University of Maine to report their experiences associated with having lived with a biological parent with depression for at least five years preceding college. Quantitative results and two open-ended questions highlighted four major themes: lack of empathy and support, emotional burden, role-reversal, and self-sufficiency. These key issues should guide important interventions that address the specific needs of families and college students who are impacted by PD from primary, secondary, and tertiary modes of prevention.