Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Parental Depression

The challenges of family life can be trying and a bit overwhelming at times. Usually a good night’s sleep and a bright morning will restore your spirits. But if you go from occasionally feeling “down,” to persistent feelings of irritability, guilt and sadness, you may be suffering from depression.

Child Trends Databank tells us that both dads and moms may experience depression, but women are more likely to experience this than men. While depression strikes those in all income levels, lower socioeconomic classes suffer from depression more frequently; eighteen percent of parents in households receiving welfare showed signs of depression, as compared to 4 percent of parents not on welfare.

Education also makes a difference. Parents who have not graduated from high school are much more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression than parents with higher levels of education (9 percent versus less than 5 percent).

It’s important to deal with depression as it can tear at the very fiber of family life. The young children of depressed fathers are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems. Depression can also cloud thinking and judgment. Depressed mothers tend to not take normal safety precautions that they ordinarily would not miss, such as insisting that the child sit in a car safety seat.

The good news is that depression can be treated successfully. If you are a depressed parent, talk to a doctor about your feelings of depression and discuss treatment methods, for you and for your family’s sake.

Parental Signs of Depression, Child Trends database
Ahluwalia, S.K., McGroder, S.M., Zaslow, M., and Hair, E.C. (2001). Symptoms of depression among welfare recipients: A concern for two generations. Child Trends Research Brief, December 2001. Child Trends: Washington, D.C. Available at: