If Your Dad's Depressed, You May Be Too
Teens whose fathers exhibited symptoms of depression when the children were young are more likely to have similar symptoms themselves, according to a study published in The Lancet. Maternal depression is widely recognized as a major contributing factor to teen depression, but few studies have focused on the role of paternal depression alone on adolescent mental health.
According to the researchers, paternal depression is relatively common and important because fathers are increasingly involved in child care. For this study, they analyzed data from two large cohorts: The Growing Up in Ireland study, which involved 6,070 families, and the Millennium Cohort Study in the United Kingdom, which involved 7,768 families. They measured fathers’ depressive symptoms when the children were 7 or 9 years old and adolescent depressive symptoms when they were 13 or 14.
Results of the study show that paternal depression raises the risk for teen depression, independent of factors like maternal depression, family conflict, and others, and regardless of whether the fathers were biologically related to the children or not.