Study Finds Environmental Transmission Of Depression Between Fathers And Children (Even If Not Genetically Related)

Study Finds Environmental Transmission Of Depression Between Fathers And Children (Even If Not Genetically Related)

According to the findings of some experts, a genetic link between a depressed father and his depressed kid is not necessary for paternal depression to be a factor in the development of depressive symptoms and behavioral issues in the child.

There is a correlation between parental depression and the increasing rates of adolescent depression and behavioral issues, and this correlation exists independent of the genetic relationship between the dads and the children.

What did the study find?

The study examined at naturally occurring differences in genetic relatedness among parents and their adolescent children in the 720 families that participated in the Nonshared Environment in Adolescent Development (NEAD) project. More than half of those households had a child-rearing stepparent.

Each participant’s mother, father, and the kid responded to a series of questions designed to assess depressive symptoms, behavioral patterns, and levels of conflict between parents and children. After that, the researchers used a number of different models to investigate the connection that existed between paternal depressive symptoms and child behavioral symptoms.

Irrespective of whether the fathers and their kids shared a genetic connection or not, researchers discovered that fatherly depression was related to adolescent depression as well as adolescent behavior issues.

The findings pointed unmistakably to a transfer of depressive symptoms and behaviors from dads to their offspring via their shared environments.

Additionally, we continued to see these associations in a subset of ‘blended’ families in which the father was biologically related to one participating child but not to the other, which was an important confirmation of our results. We also found that much of this effect appeared to be a function of parent-child conflict. These kinds of findings add to the evidence that parent–child conflict plays a role as an environmental predictor of adolescent behaviors.

According to Neiderhiser, even though the findings were anticipated, the researchers also hypothesized that the consequences of depression and behavior problems in offspring would be more pronounced in parent-child combinations that shared genes.


Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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