Parental Depression May Affect Childhood Development
According to a new study funded by the Welsh government, children that live with a parent that has depression are more likely to also develop depression and not achieve educational milestones. Information on children born in Wales from 1987 to 2018, as well as their parents, was used in the study.
The researchers found that living with a parent with depression is detrimental to a child’s outcome, but having a parent that has had a history of depression, even prior to the birth, increases the risk of depression and lowers the educational attainment of the child. The highest level of childhood depression risk was associated with exposure to a mother that had depression both before and after the birth of the child.
The risk of failing school exams was highest when the child was exposed to either a mother or father (or another stable male figure) with a history of depression, both before and after the child’s birth. These results suggest that exposure to a chronically depressed parent(s) is important in determining if the child will develop depression and have trouble with schoolwork.
Other findings included: having no father figure in the child’s life resulted in a higher risk of childhood depression and poorer results in school, and having a father with depression was associated with poorer results in school.
Depression is an issue that impacts the entire family, not just an individual. Taking a whole-family approach to addressing mental health will help ensure positive outcomes for both parents and children in the long term.