Photo via Micah Sparacio.
Turn that frown upside down. No, really, you should, or you could increase the chance that your kids will develop emotional or behavioral problems.

A new study published in Pediatrics this month found a correlation between a father’s depression and emotional issues in their kids. While studies have long shown a mother’s depression can impact her children, but less is known about how dads can pass on emotional problems.

The study, which sampled 22,000 children from two-parent homes, found that while mothers still impact their children’s emotions more, fathers also impact their children significantly. Kids with depressed mothers have a 19 percent risk of emotional problems, says the Web MD report on the study, while kids with emotional fathers have an 11 percent risk. Risk increases fourfold if both parents are depressed.

Michael Weitzman, study researcher, told Web MD that how people parent influences all aspects of a child’s development. In toddlers, issues include problems regulating emotions, having more ups and downs and aggressiveness. In older children, anxiety, depression and ADD/ADHD can develop.

Weitzman and fellow researchers hope the new findings will inspire dads to get help and treatment for depression as early as possible.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.

See these resources for help if you feel you could be depressed.