Having a depressed parent can take a toll on a child in any number of ways, and a comprehensive new study suggests a tangible one: lower school grades. The study led by researchers at Philadelphia's Drexel University found that kids whose mothers were diagnosed with depression had GPAs about 4.5 points lower than their peers at age 16, while kids with depressed fathers were about 4 points behind, reports NPR. The effect was especially pronounced for daughters whose mothers were depressed, notes Philly Voice: Those teen girls scored 5.1 points lower. The study looked at the grades of more than 1 million students in Sweden and cross-referenced them with their parents' mental health records; Sweden was used because records were easier to assess there.
"One of the interesting things that we did observe was that even if parental depression occurred before the child was born, that was still associated with school performance when the child was 16," says Drexel researcher Brian Lee. The researchers don't get into the reasons why parental depression might hurt their kids' grades, though an epidemiologist at Columbia University Medical Center notes that a parent in this situation isn't going to make it to an appointment with a teacher, for instance, or have the energy to talk to their kids about problems in general. "Diagnoses of parental depression may have a far-reaching effect on an important aspect of child development, with implications for future life course outcomes," write the researchers in JAMA. (A TV star shut down his fat shamers by telling his own story of depression.)