PARENTS

Depressed Dads Increase Chance Of Children Suffering Behavioural Problems

08/11/2011 12:40 | Updated 22 May 2015
Depressed dad and childPA

A new study has found that depressed dads can cause their children to have behavioural problems, whilst children with TWO depressed parents are at an even greater risk. Previously, the mental health of dads has not been researched in terms of a link with children's behaviour.

Although the nature of the link is not yet clear, researchers at New York University School of Medicine found that while 6 per cent of youngsters with non-depressed parents had problematic behaviour, 11 per cent of those with a depressed dad did.

The author of the study, Dr. Michael Weitzman, said that it was the first time that dads' mental health had come under scrutiny, as most research focuses on depression in women and the knock-on effects it has on children.

"There are countless articles on the effect of depression and other mental health problems in mothers on children, but this is virtually the first paper that we are aware of that has looked at similar effects in fathers," he said.

The study examined the results of surveys of nearly 22,000 U.S. children aged 5 to 17 and of their mothers and fathers taken between 2004 to 2008 and looked for signs of depression in the respondents answers to questions.

They found that in the older range of 12 to 17, males, whites and those who lived with smokers had higher levels of apparent depression.

Twenty percent of those with mothers who appeared depressed showed signs of depression themselves, while 16 per cent of kids with depressed dads appeared depressed themselves. The figure reached 25 per cent if both parents were depressed, Weitzman said.

He said that although he didn't know exactly WHY it happened, it could be that depressed parents might make kids depressed and therefore effect their behaviour, or even that depressed children make parents depressed.

Dr Weitzman added that "Depression is one of the greatest and least addressed public health problems in the nation, if not the world," adding that the effect dads' health has on their children is rarely examined.

"Despite all the progress in the past generation, and facilitating women's presence in the workplace... we find no attention to similar efforts to enhance the effects of fathers in raising their children."

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Do we not pay enough attention to dads and how their health or behaviour could affect their children?

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