Genetically speaking, depression is feeling an extreme sadness. Everyone feels depressed at times, but usually it doesn’t last long, and when it does, then everyone in the family is affected. Many things can cause depression; sometimes it is due to events that happen to us (the loss of someone or something) or problems with some of the body chemicals, like hormones or neurotransmitters (like serotonin). Other times it can be due to lack of sleep or not eating healthy foods.
And…how about having your new baby?
Everyone in the home with that “bawling squalling bundle of joy” is susceptible to depression…even siblings, and especially daddies.
Many studies have shown that maternal depression affects the baby-mommy bonding, which can lead to kid-emotional problems later in life. Maternal depression can be related to the changing hormone levels related to pregnancy, as well as other reasons, too.
A new article from the journal Pediatrics, explores causes of depression in fathers and how it differs from depression in mothers. Understanding these differences may help families identify and deal with depression.
This analysis came from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children with almost 14,000 kids and families who were recruited during pregnancy and followed for at least 7 years.
Depression in family members and later childhood difficulties like emotional problems, conduct difficulties, and hyperactivity were documented.
Results showed that families with depression had more kids with emotional difficulties.
In the families who were affected by the paternal depression, most of the paternal depression seemed to be triggered or related to the mother also being depressed, and/or to couple conflict. So, the take-home message: when anyone in the family is depressed, it affects everyone else, including infants EVEN in the first year of life!
Common causes of depression include lack of sleep, poor diet, and lack of exercise. You may be able to fix these with some thought and work.
Parents-to-be and new parents have to work extra hard to develop a strong, supportive relationship to weather the inevitable ups and downs when that “bawling squalling bundle of joy” appears.
Everyone feels depressed off and on, but if it goes on for very many days or is affecting daily life and enjoyment of the family, see you doctor. Your baby’s later behavior and well-being may count on it! Give that kid a hug, Gene