Parental Depression: How it Affects a Child

This information is useful for children and adults
Why Yale Medicine?
  • We are advancing research on how parental depression affects children and families.
  • We do groundbreaking work in increasing awareness of and screening for parental depression.
  • We have an international reputation for providing high-quality, community-based services.

Parental depression is a pervasive problem. An estimated 15 million children (about one in five) in the United States live with a parent who has severe depression. And a large and growing body of research shows that parental depression is a major risk factor for difficulties in a child’s life, says Megan Smith, PhD, co-director of the Parenting Center at the Yale Medicine Child Study Center and director of the New Haven Mental Health Outreach for Mothers (MOMS) Partnership.

“Depression disrupts a parent’s ability to work, parent and participate in the community,” she says, defining “parent” broadly to include not only mothers and fathers, but also pregnant women, grandmothers and other kin caring for children. “It’s incredibly functionally impairing.”

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