Children more likely to be depressed if father has poor mental health, suggests research

Both parents have a role in preventing teenage depression, says one of the first studies to look at the impact of a father’s mental health as well as the mother’s.

The University College London (UCL), which published the research, hopes that its findings could “encourage men who experience depression to speak to their doctor about it”.

The study looked at around 14,000 families and their mental wellbeing. They were asked to answer various questions about their mental health to try and find a link between a parent’s wellbeing and their children’s.

It showed that a father’s depressive state can often be mirrored in their children’s mental health, a link equal to that between a mother and her children.

Dr Gemma Lewis, a researcher from UCL, said: “If you’re a father who hasn’t sought treatment for your depression, it could have an impact on your child.

“We hope that our findings could encourage men who experience depression to speak to their doctor about it.”

The researchers suggested that a child can be affected by poor mental health in the home, as depressed mothers and fathers are “more prone to fatigue, more irritable, and more likely to argue with their children”.

“Children see the way their parents behave and act and this could bring on negative ways of thinking, which could then lead to depression,” Dr Lewis added.

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