Around one in four girls whose fathers are not with them during their early childhood years display symptoms of depression during their teenage years, a new study published in the journal Psychological Medicine reveals.
Researchers at University of Bristol questioned around 5,630 youngsters who were part of the Children Of The 90s project, which involved over 20,000 children born in 1991 and 1992. The participants were asked whether they suffered from symptoms of depression, such as sadness, unworthiness or extreme lethargy in the last two weeks.
The researchers also tracked the participants' family circumstances and found that over 23 percent of girls suffered from depressive symptoms when their father left them before they turned five years old. This meant that it was 50 percent more likely that a girl suffered from depressive symptoms during her teenage years when her father left her before she was five years old, compared to 15 percent among those over five years of age.
"In reality the largest group of children whose fathers were absent between nought to five years, the girls, were the ones who answered the most questions with "yes". Girls whose fathers were absent in middle childhood, or boys in general, were less likely. We saw that girls who experienced divorce and a father's absence in the first five years were more likely to develop advanced mental health, or health, issues, later in life", lead researcher Iryna Culpin said.