A study of 20,000 US families found kids with fathers suffering from depression are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems than other children.

Michael Weitzman at the New York University School of Medicine, who authored the study, said these findings are especially important at a time when unemployment is high and some military dads are returning from Afghanistan and Iraq with emotional wounds.

While depression in mothers has been previously linked to kids’ behavioral problems, Weitzman’s study is one of the first to connect the issues with depressed fathers and to closely examine them.

Weitzman’s results showed that 11 percent of children with a depressed father had problems at home or at school, compared to 19 percent if their mother was depressed. If both parents suffered depression, fully one in four kids struggled emotionally and behaviorally.

Only 6 percent of children in families where depression affected neither parent had similar problems.

Jeremy Pettit, a psychologist from Florida International University in Miami, said, “Parents who are depressed tend to engage less with their children, tend to display less positive behaviors, and display more harsh, negative and critical behaviors,” adding recognizing and seeking treatment for the condition is the best way to lessen the effects of parental depression on kids.


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