Kids with Depressed Dads Risk Emotional Problems Too

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.

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Help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Elysa LeBron, LCSW, Clinical Director
Jennifer Newman, PhD, Staff Psychologist

A traumatic event is an overwhelming or uncontrollable experience that can happen to anyone. It involves an actual or perceived threat of death or injury that causes someone to feel intensely horrified or helpless. Some people come to think about the world very differently after experiencing a traumatic event. Many factors can impact a person’s reaction, such as the amount of devastation witnessed and the degree of personal responsibility felt for what happened.

In the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, most people will experience some level of traumatic stress symptoms. Some of the more typical symptoms are:

  • Nightmares or unwanted daytime images of the event
  • Avoidance of thoughts, feelings or reminders of the event
  • Emotional numbing
  • Social withdrawal or difficulty feeling close to others
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Anger or irritability
  • Jumpiness and/or hypervigilance

With time, however, these symptoms often subside and many people will have a “natural recovery.” For some, these symptoms do not subside and then they may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can be successfully treated through a variety of “talk therapy” treatments with a trained, licensed clinician. Specifically, cognitive behavioral treatments have been shown to be effective.

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Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy May Cause Autism

Natalie Meirowitz, MD

A study recently performed by researchers at Stanford University found that environmental factors could be a possible cause of autism. The study, which was published recently in Archives of General Psychiatry, defined “environmental” factors as anything unrelated to genetic code. These factors could include advanced maternal or paternal age, assisted reproductive technology, artificial insemination and giving birth to multiples.

Another environmental factor that could cause an even greater risk of autism is the intake of antidepressants during pregnancy. The risk was three times higher if mothers took medication during early pregnancy, compared to children without the developmental disorder.

But even though taking antidepressants during pregnancy could harm the baby, going off the antidepressants could harm the baby as well as the mother in many ways. It may not be the best choice for mothers to go off their medication when pregnant. If they do, they may self-medicate in other ways such as using drugs and alcohol, failing to eat right and failing to keep their prenatal appointments.

The decision to stop medications must be carefully considered between the patient, her psychiatrist, obstetrician and significant other. Full Post - to Detail View