Parental Depression & Educational Outcomes for Children

Depression is a common mental disorder that can inflict pain and hardship across the lifespan. When a parent experiences depression, they are faced with an additional set of challenges. Notably, parenting is a full-time job that operates on a 24-hour schedule. For a healthy parent, it is common to feel exhausted and drained by the end of a busy day. For those struggling with depression, their mood, energy level, interest and/or pleasure often are already depleted or start at a lower baseline level.

To date, a large body of work has documented increased risk for several negative outcomes among the offspring of parents with a history of depression, including higher rates of physical and mental illness. In a recent article in JAMA Psychiatry, Hanyang Shen and colleagues published findings regarding the associations between parental depression and child academic performance. Using a large sample from Sweden, Shen and colleagues looked at how parental depression occurring at different points in the child’s life was related to school grades. Interestingly, depression occurring in either parent at any point in the child’s life was related to decreased academic achievement. Moreover, the influence of parental depression on academic performance was more pronounced for girls.

These findings further underscore the clinical significance of parental depression. Fortunately, there are several effective treatments for depression, which are particularly important for those with children. If you have noticed changes in your mood, energy level, or appetite, these may be signs of depression. At Georgetown Psychology Associates, we offer therapy and support for parents and children.