November 16, 2011
Victor Fornari, MD
Children who live with fathers with depressive symptoms and other mental health problems are more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems themselves, according to a new study in the December 2011 journal Pediatrics (published online last week).
Increasing the awareness about the higher risk for the development of depression in youth who have a depressed father is so important to facilitate early identification and treatment for vulnerable children and adolescents. Given the increased risk of depression in immediate family members with depression, it is not surprising that the study showed this increase rate of depression in youth if they had a depressed father.
Although there has been greater attention given to children of depressed mothers, recognition that having a depressed father also puts young people at increased risk for depression themselves, is valuable for both public awareness and for professional understanding. Both biologic (genetic) factors as well as psychological factors may be at play here.