March 14, 2011 at 2:36 PM ET
Depression doesn't just affect new moms -- dads feel it, too.
Now a new study shows that depressed dads are more likely to spank their young children.
The study of more than 1,700 dads from 16 large U.S. cities found that 40 percent of depressed men said they had spanked their kids in the last month, compared to only 13 percent of men without depressive symptoms. The men who spanked had varying levels of depression, from those with baby-related blues to those who had a history of clinical depression. Dads who felt depressed in the past year were four times as likely to swat their kids as those who felt fine, the study found.
Depression-fueled spanking among mothers has been documented in previous research, but this is the first time it's been shown for dads. The lead author of the Pediatrics Journal study, Utah pediatrician Dr. R. Neal Davis, says the findings are especially relevant today, given that depression among fathers is strongly tied to unemployment rates, which are much higher today than a decade ago. A 2010 study found that 1 in 10 dads experience pre-natal or post-partum depression.
What's even more disconcerting in the new study is the fact that the depressed dads had spanked children who were 1 year of age.
No matter where you fall on the spank or not-to-spank divide, there really is nothing good about spanking a 1 year old. It's ineffective and is more likely to cause injury in kids that young.
Moms, do you think your partner suffered from any depression after your children were born? Dads, were you affected by the baby blues? What can we do to help depressed dads?