Historically, a common misconception has been that mother’s mental health is the primary predictor of children’s mental health, and that the father is much less influential. However, a study published in Lancet Psychiatry attempts to dispel this belief. The researchers reviewed several large cohort studies. In a UK study, it was found that children whose fathers were depressed during the antenatal or postnatal periods had higher risk of emotional and behavioral problems than did those whose fathers did not have depression, when they were assessed at age 3,5, and 7. In an Australian study, it was found that childhood social and emotional well-being was negatively associated with paternal psychological distress. In a Finnish study, it was found that there was an association between paternal postnatal distress and internalizing behavioral problems among their children at age 12. The researchers then did their own research on an Irish cohort study of children ages 13-14. After adjusting for child emotional symptoms, paternal depression symptoms were significantly associated with symptoms of depression in adolescents.
So what does this all mean — what can we take away from these findings? Well, if you’re a father who hasn’t sought treatment for depression, it could have an impact on not only you, but your children.
Padre Cadre members, if you’re personally struggling with stress, worry, anxiety, depression, etc., take the time to seek help. It can drastically improve your own health and well-being, as well as promote healthier children who are more psychologically resilient and flexible.
Read the original study here.