Post-natal depression in fathers, in addition to mothers, bring emotional problems for their teenage daughters, finds a new study. The study found that almost one in 20 new fathers suffered depression in the weeks after their child was born. However, this association of increased risk applied only to teenage daughters. Sons remained unaffected.
The reason for this “handing on” effect could be that post-natal depression in fathers is sometimes linked with an increased level of maternal depression, indicating family life is more disrupted for everyone with higher levels of stress for all.
While it is unclear why girls may be more affected at this age, there may be links to specific aspects of father-daughter relationships as girls go through adolescence, the team suggested, in the paper published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
“We were able to look at some of the ways in which depression in fathers might have affected children. It appears that depression in fathers is linked with an increased level of stress in the whole family, and that this might be one way in which the offspring may be affected,” said Paul Ramchandani, Professor from the University of Cambridge.
Whilst many children will not be affected by parental depression in this way, the findings of this study highlight the importance of providing appropriate help to fathers, as well as mothers, who may experience depression, according to Ramchandani.
“Fathers’ post-natal depression impacts the whole family when unsupported, often resulting in fathers using negative coping skills, avoiding situations and often feeling anger,” noted Mark Williams, a paternal depression campaigner.
The study was based on the experiences of 3,176 fathers.