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— Kids of dads who appear depressed are more prone to show signs of behavioral and psychological issues, researchers report even though the type of the link isn’t clear.

The study indicates that kids whose parents both seem depressed are at particularly high risk.
“This opens the doorway into a huge array of answerable but currently unanswered questions regarding the wellbeing and growth of kids growing up in families with blue fathers,” said study author Dr. Michael Weitzman, a professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at New York University School of Medicine.

Plenty of studies have examined how children influence, particularly when it comes to postpartum depression, Weitzman said. Scientists have discovered indications that dads may get depressed after a child’s birth. However there’s been little research into how kids may influence, he said.

That represents a bigger difference, he explained. “Daddies get left out of a wide range of policy and clinical deliberations concerning the wellbeing of kids.”

In the newest study, researchers examined the results of surveys of nearly 22,000 U.S. children aged 5 to 17 and of their mothers and dads. The surveys were completed from 2004 to 2008.

The study authors looked for indications of depression on the basis of the replies, although not one of children or the parents was diagnosed included in the survey.

The researchers found that 7.5 percent of the children showed indications of behavioral or mental difficulties. Elderly children (aged 12 to 17), men, whites and individuals who lived with smokers had higher degrees of clear depression.

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Twenty percent of those with mothers who seemed depressed revealed indications of melancholy themselves; the percentage was 16 percent for those whose dads seemed depressed. If both parents appeared depressed the number soared to 25 percent, Weitzman said.

The numbers don’t indicate why symptoms of depression in parents and kids might be linked. It could have at least something to do with melancholy, Weitzman said, or depressed parents might make kids depressed. Another possibility is that blue kids make parents depressed.

If the link is directly from parents to children, some potential reasons could include the inability of blue parents “to react to your kid’s requests and needs in a consistently reliable and empathic manner,” said Dr. Rahil Briggs, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “Depressed parents may also fight to aid their kids control their very own emotions, which may result in poor social psychological development.”

Dr. Christopher Bellonci, a psychiatrist and assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, said the findings are “consciousness raising” because they point to how miserable males do not necessarily suffer in isolation. “They remind us that when you are dealing with depressed adult males you need to keep in mind to ask, ‘Are they a parent? Who’s watching out for the kids?'”

The study appears online and in the December issue of the journal Pediatrics.

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