(Reuters Health) – Kids may be more likely to develop depression and anxiety when their parents are regular drinkers, even when neither parent drinks enough to be considered an alcoholic, a Norwegian study suggests.
Researchers studied 8,773 children from 6,696 two-parent families who participated in a health survey when the kids were 13 to 19 years old. Overall, 2,132 of the children, or about 24 percent, had depression or anxiety, or both.
Children were 52 percent more likely to have anxiety or depression when both parents regularly drank alcohol and when fathers themselves had symptoms of mental health issues than when parents didn’t drink or have any psychological problems, the study found.
The findings suggest that in some family settings, even normal levels of parental alcohol use might trigger children to develop anxiety and/or depression in adolescence and early adulthood, said lead study author Ingunn Olea Lund of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo.
“This is significant, as the level of alcohol consumption discussed in this study rarely appears to be problematic,” Lund said by email.
While the study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how parents’ drinking habits might directly impact kids’ mental health, it’s possible that parents just become less attentive to children’s needs when they drink, Lund said.
Also, changes in parents’ behavior when they drink might be scary or uncomfortable for children, even when parents…
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