So, what do you think? Does having kids lead to long-term depression? LOL.
-Kid-A (of the no-kids but wants a puppy class)
Got the blues? Blame the kids
Globe and Mail Update
Parenthood could be considered a lifelong affliction, according to a new study out of Florida State University.
Researchers have found that adults with children are significantly more likely to report symptoms of depression than those without kids. And the blues don't go away when the kids do either.
More than 13,000 adults participated in the study, which recorded how many times a week people suffered from a series of symptoms; from sleeplessness and loss of appetite to distractedness and loneliness. All of which are common symptoms of depression.
“There is no type of parent who reports less depression than those who do not have kids,” said Robin Simon, co-author the study, which was published in the American Sociological Association's Journal of Health and Social Behaviour. There are, however, certain types of parents who have it worse than others, she said.
The most severe cases of depression are found in people who do not have custody of their children or were single parents, and the least depressed are the “empty-nesters,” whose children have left home. Parents have a higher level of stress, anxiety, and worry and those feelings remain even after the child leaves the home, according to the study. Even empty-nesters are not less depressed than those without kids.
Ms. Simon said the finding suggest that being a parent is far more taxing than most people expect and that the benefits of parenting do not outweigh the negative effects in terms of mental health.
Ms. Simon said generally, she was not surprised by the results because, her previous research has found that parents report more negative emotions than those adults without kids.
“We romanticize parenthood to be a means to a lifetime of happiness,” said Ms. Simon, who has two children of her own. “But it's a tough job.... Parenthood doesn't give you a mental health boost.”
What Ms. Simon did say she found surprising was that there was little difference between genders, and that parents of younger children were less likely to report symptoms of depression.
According to her report, having smaller children, while more physically demanding, is less emotionally taxing.
Ms. Simon chalks it up to a simple equation: “Small children, small problems, small worries.”
She also found, that contrary to common belief that raising someone else's kid can be more draining, stepparents reported no significant difference in level of depression than other parents.
However, Ms. Simon is quick to point out that the study is only measuring depression, not happiness, and that there are several documented benefits that come along with having kids, like increased social networks and self-esteem. But it appears the emotional costs outweigh the psychological benefits, she said.