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Depression Health Center

Parenting Suffers When Dad Has Depression

Study: Depressed Fathers More Likely to Spank, Less Likely to Read to Young Children
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Doctors Can Do More to Support Dads

“Studies like this that have a really good sample, are very well done, and really show in this time period, which is a pretty key time period -- the first year of life, a difference between depressed dads and nondepressed dads, I think add to the evidence and the need for pediatrics to start to consider dad,” says Craig F. Garfield, MD, a pediatrician at NorthShore University Health System and assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University, in Chicago.

Garfield wrote a commentary that accompanies the study.

He notes that one of the key findings, that 77% of depressed fathers reported going to at least one doctor’s visit with their kids within the last year, opens the door for pediatricians to make a difference.

“This current recession that we’re in has been called a ‘mancession’ because of the disproportionate number of men who have been laid off. And so as more men are laid off, it’s likely they’ll end up at home,” Garfield tells WebMD. “If they’re at home, number one, they’ll more likely to be with their kids, and number two, they’ll be even more likely to come to the pediatrician’s office.”

Going to a pediatrician with their child, then, appears to be an opportunity for a doctor to help.

But while many pediatricians know to watch for depression in mothers, they are less likely to look for it in men.

“This wasn’t on our radar screen for a long time,” Garfield says. “Parenting is a team event. The more we can do to support both partners on the team, the better the child’s going to be.”

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