Experts say that parents are more likely to suffer from depression as a consequence of more worry compared to those who are unmarried. Florida State University researchers, and researchers from Vanderbilt University, headed by Robin Simon have unraveled this interesting finding. Researchers hypothesize that the constant concern and involvement of parents in the lives of their adult children could be responsible for the same.
"Parents have more to worry about than other people do - that's the bottom line," Simon said. "And that worry does not diminish over time. Parents worry about their kids' emotional, social, physical and economic well-being.
One of the most interesting findings of the study is that there is no type of parent that reports less depression than non-parents, Simon said in the study that appeared in the American Sociological Association's Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.
The researchers also found that certain types of parents have higher levels of depression than other parents. Parents of adult children, whether they live at home or not, and parents who do not have custody of their minor children have more symptoms of depression.
"Young children in some ways are emotionally easier," Simon said. "Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems."
The researchers were surprised - shocked, actually - to find that the effects of parenthood on depression were the same for men and women. These findings are inconsistent with some earlier studies and with the assumption that parenthood is more consequential for the emotional well-being of women, Simon said.
The findings do not mean that parents don't find any pleasure in their roles; it's just that the emotional costs can outweigh the psychological benefits.
The value of a study like this is that it presents a realistic view of the difficulties associated with parenthood and encourages parents to seek greater social support, Simon said.
"Parents should know they are not alone; other people are feeling this way, too," she said.