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Fathers' depression 'harms young'



Well-known member
Mar 23, 2009
Fathers' depression 'harms young'

Children whose fathers have mental health disorders are likely to have psychiatric or behavioural disorders themselves, researchers warn.

University of Oxford experts reviewed existing evidence and said, in the Lancet, there had been too much focus on mothers' mental health issues.

They said boys in particular could be affected if their father had depression or was an alcoholic.

Mental health campaigners said men often had problems seeking help.


The Oxford team said it was not surprising much of researchers' emphasis had focused on mothers as, in most societies, it is mothers who provide the majority of childcare - particularly when children are very young.

But they said the role of men had been "underemphasised" and that they had more influence on their children's development than previously thought.

In addition, the peak age for men to be affected by psychiatric disorders is the same as the peak age for becoming a father - between 18 and 35.
“ In years gone by, if fathers were depressed and distant it may not have made much of an impact ”
Emily Wooster, Mind

Paternal depression during the postnatal period, measured at eight weeks after birth, has been associated with increasing the chance of the child subsequently developing behavioural and emotional problems from 10% to 20%.

Teenage offspring of depressed fathers also have an increased risk of various psychological problems, including depression and suicidal behaviour.

Around 2% of men are affected by generalised anxiety disorder, and children whose parents have anxiety disorders have a two-fold increased risk of developing such disorders themselves, researchers say.

Pervious studies have also found links between a father's alcoholism and an increased risk of conduct disorders, where children behave aggressively and destructively and abuse substances - particularly in sons.

Paternal alcoholism is also associated with an increased risk of mood disorders, depressive symptoms, poor performance at school, low self-esteem and problems forming relationships.

Adolescents whose parents have bipolar disorder are up to 10 times more likely than adolescents with mentally healthy parents to develop bipolar disorder, and three to four times more likely to develop other psychiatric illness, research suggests.

'Nurturing role'

The Oxford team, led by psychiatrist Professor Paul Ramchandani, said more research was needed on how fathers' psychiatric disorders affect their children's development.

He said: "Fathers are more involved in child-rearing in countries including the UK than they used to be.

"In years gone by, if fathers were depressed and distant it may not have made much of an impact.

"We now need a more general understanding of what effects psychiatric problems in fathers can have on children."

Emily Wooster, policy and campaign manager for the mental health charity Mind, said: "Men's roles in bringing up children have changed significantly over the last century, with many dads now taking on an active 'nurturing role' so it's important that there is more research into the relationship between fathers' mental health problems and how these may affect their children.

"Mind has found that men often have difficulties coming forward and talking about their mental health problems, perhaps because of the way they are socialised into being 'strong, tough men' who can't show their emotions."

She said the charity was due to launch a campaign next week calling for "male-friendly" mental health services and better support for men.
Story from BBC NEWS:


I have always thought that the lack of proper male role models in the lives of children; especially male children, is a prime reason for a lot of problems in society.

quality factor

Interestingly, male teachers for the 4-7 year age range in schools is a notable absence. It is only during the past 10 - 15 years that a male has been more readily accepted in First Schools. Traditionally, females have always dominated the staffing of Nursery / Infant schools.
My father used to come in to school and help with small groups taking science and technology and hearing the children read. He was looked upon as a 'grandad' to the children, his visits were always very popular and the children got very exciited when he came in.
The only other male figure to be a regular in 'pure' infant schools, was of course the caretaker...I don't know what his /her official title is now!!


Well-known member
Dec 26, 2008
Is there anywhere I can get statistic's for children developing bipolar if the mother has it?


Well-known member
Mar 23, 2009
Is there anywhere I can get statistic's for children developing bipolar if the mother has it?

Some rough statistics here

Bipolar disorder has a strong genetic influence. Of those with bipolar disorder, approximately 50% of them have a parent with a history of clinical depression. When a mother or father has bipolar disorder, their child will have a 25% chance of developing some type of clinical depression. If both parents have bipolar disorder, the chance of their child also developing bipolar disorder is between 50% and 75%. Brothers and sisters of those with bipolar disorder may be 8 to 18 times more likely to develop bipolar disorder, and 2 to 10 times more likely to develop major depressive disorder than others with no such siblings.

Comparative Data

Our research team has produced some comparative data on Manic Depression and simple depression. Simple depression is much more common than manic depression - about 1% of the population will suffer from Bipolar Disorder and approximately 5% of the population will suffer from depression at some point in their lives. If someone is related to a patient with bipolar disorder, their risk of developing Bipolar Disorder themselves is increased six-fold and their risk of major depression is increased by slightly more than twice. Thus, being related to someone with Bipolar Disorder increases greatly your risk of suffering not only from bipolar disorder, but also from depression. For people who are related to individuals with depression only the increase in risk is approximately three times for each of them - from ~0.8% to ~2.6% for bipolar disorder and from ~5% to ~15% for depression. This tells us two fairly important things: first that there is some relation between the causes of these two diseases, because risk for both is increased by being related to a patient with either of them. It also tells us that there are elements that are necessary for manic depression which are not necessary for simple depression. What this means is that Bipolar Disorder is a complex condition.

In twin studies of this condition it has been shown that identical twins seem both to have Bipolar Disorder between 70 - 80% of the time, and this indicates that this trait is highly genetic and that approximately three-quarters of the liability for manic depression is contained within the genes with the remaining 25% being an effect of the environment, life events and other issues within the individual's life. Twin studies also allow us to parcel out these three elements i.e. genetic elements; shared environment between the two individuals; and non-shared environment. What can be seen is that for manic depressive illness, 86% of the liability to this trait is estimated to arise from genetic material, and only about 7% each from the common and non-shared environment. If this is compared to Major Affective Disorder (which is depression alone) we can see that this appears to be approximately 50% versus 30% for environment and 18% for things which are different between related individuals.



Well-known member
Dec 26, 2008
Thank you very much Firemonkee.......... But how I wish I could change things!!!


Well-known member
Founding Member
May 11, 2008
I've sufferred from depression in varying degrees since shortly after the birth of my first son 14 years ago, my wife sufferred very badly from post-natal depression. Initially my GP basically told me to pull myself together and only started to treat me once he had diagnosed my wife. I've never kept my mental health problems a secret from my sons and have always been open with them about how I am feeling.

I hope that they never suffer from depression, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy, but if they did at least I could understand and hopefully help and support them.

Incidentally, as a result of my depression I have worked part-time for a number of years and have therefore been heavily involved in the care of my sons, something I am grateful for. :tea:
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