When parents suffer depression, there can be a ripple effect on children. Kids may become anxious, even sad. There may be behavior problems. Health may suffer.
Recently, a large Swedish study showed that grades may decline, too, when a parent is depressed.
Using data from 1984 to 1994, researchers from Philadelphia's Dornsife School of Public Health, at Drexel University, measured school grades for more than 1.1 million children in Sweden and compared them with their parents' mental health status. The study was published in a February issue of JAMA Psychiatry.
At age 16, children of mothers who had experienced depression scored about 4.5 percentage points lower in their school grades than children of nondepressed mothers. Similarly, 16-year-olds with fathers who had experienced depression scored about 4 percentage points lower.
Even though 4 or 4.5 points may not sound like much, it "can mean a lot for a student," says Drexel epidemiologist Felice Le-Scherban. It may be the difference between an A grade or a B — or between a D and a C — and small grade differences can add up, sometimes shaping a decision about whether to stay in school or quit.