Parental depression can affect child’s school performance: Study

Parental depression can affect child’s school performance: Study

Depression, one of the most common reasons for disability among Americans, needs to be recognized and treated. While people suffering from depression are not able to get rid of negative thoughts and feelings of hopelessness, it is shocking how Americans have underestimated the brutality of the disease.

Swedish researchers conducted a research recently to study the effect of parental depression on the growth and development of a child. The study, titled “Associations of Parental Depression with Child School Performance at Age 16 Years in Sweden,” revealed that the performance of children worsens in school when their parents suffer from depression.

Brian Lee from the Dornsife School of Public Health in the United States and co-author of the study told, “Our results suggest that diagnoses of parental depression may have a far-reaching effect on an important aspect of child development, with implications for future life course outcomes.”

Examining the negative link

The study, published in the JAMA Psychiatry in February 2016, is based on comprehensive data on parental depression diagnoses and school grades for 1,124,162 children (including 48.9 percent females) born in Sweden between 1984 and 1994 and further identified 33,906 mothers and 23,724 fathers who had depression before the final year of a child’s compulsory education.

The data about parents were arrived at by evaluating inpatient records since 1969 and outpatient records beginning in 2001. The reports suggested that a child’s development gets affected due to both maternal and paternal depression. Laying emphasis on the findings, Félice Lê-Scherban from the Dornsife School of Public Health and co-author of the study stressed, “Anything that creates an uneven playing field for children in terms of their education can potentially have strong implications for health inequities down the road.”

Though the results did not show significant differences for maternal and paternal depression, the analysis found that episodes of depressive disorders in mothers with kids aged 11-16 years appeared to have a larger effect on girls than boys.

While discussing the conclusions, Lee told, “There are many notable sex differences in depression, but, rather than comparing maternal versus paternal depression, we should recognize that parental depression can have adverse consequences not just for the parents but also for their children.”

In a similar study, titled “Children of Depressed Parents — A Public Health Opportunity,” Dr. Myrna M. Weissman of the Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York City, told, “One of the best-replicated findings in clinical psychiatry is that the biological offspring of depressed parents (usually mothers are studied) themselves have considerable emotional and functional problems, usually depression and anxiety.” The study was published in the JAMA Psychiatry in February 2016.

It is necessary to look at the possible depressive disorders in parents while finding out the reason for child-related social and behavioral problems. The results of both the studies point out to the necessity of proper diagnosis of parental depression as the same can have a far-reaching impact on the development of a child during his early years.

Recognizing the need for treatment

Martin Seligman, psychology professor at University of Pennsylvania and head of the American Psychological Association (APA), told, “United States is in the throes of an ‘epidemic’ of clinical depression. An American today, he says, is significantly more likely to suffer clinical depression at some point in his or her life than at any other time in the past hundred years.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 19 million Americans suffer from depression.

It is necessary to understand that depression is treatable and people suffering from it must not refrain from seeking professional advice fearing the stigma around it. If you or your loved one is suffering from depression or any other mental problem, it is necessary that you get in touch with the Florida Mental Health Helpline for the best treatment available in your vicinity. You may call our 24/7 helpline at 866-846-5588 or chat online with our expert for further information.

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