Depressed dads could have damaging effects on kids -

How depression affects your kids

As parents, we all want our children to follow in our footsteps. But for dads who are feeling the blues, this is one experience they may not want to share with their kids.

Depression in mothers is known to hamper a child's school performance and emotional health. But a recent study finds a father's mental state may have a similar impact.

Cleveland Clinic Child Psychologist Dr. Joe Austerman says, "This is the first large-based study that looked at depression in fathers and how it correlates to emotional and behavioral problems in children. And interestingly, in this study, it also looked at the mother's role and found that there was both a high correlation with mother's depression, as well as the father's depression. So, I think this is the first study that really shows that fathers are important and the well-being of the father is very important to the upbringing of the child."

The study suggests children with dads who have depressive symptoms are more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems themselves. And having two parents with depression increases a child's chances of having mental issues by 25 percent. With more fathers more directly involved in parenting, researchers say it's time to pay closer attention to their mental health.

Family members should be on the lookout for signs.

"What you look for is a dad that has been distant from the family, has been irritable, signs of depression," says Dr. Austerman. "Dad's not sleeping anymore, dad's not eating, he's withdrawing from the family. Those are important indicators that something may be going wrong with dad. And males aren't very good self-reporters on depression. It usually takes other people to say, 'Hey there's something wrong with you.'"

Dr. Austerman adds that men tend to hide their feelings and are more likely to discuss physical rather than emotional distress. So if you think a dad is depressed --- urge them to seek professional help.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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