Anxiety in fathers can cause mental disorders in kids: Study
July 7th, 2016
Filed under: Anxiety disorder, depression, Mental Disorder by Rachael

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.”

– Jodi Picoult

The famous quote by American author aptly addresses the prevalence of anxiety and the futility of it all. It is normal to worry about an issue, but being over anxious even about the most trivial issue can hamper one’s ability to manage daily activities.

Various reasons can cause anxiety. Many a times, culmination of previous experiences, both good and bad, may be responsible for unrelenting emotions of turmoil and suffering related with anxiety. Genes is also considered one of the reasons for the occurrence of various mental disorders. While stressing on this fact, a recent study by the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Australia said that anxiety and depression in a father can trigger negative behavioral traits in his children.

Father’s experiences before conception can influence embryo

In the rodent-based study, titled “Elevated paternal glucocorticoid exposure alters the small noncoding RNA profile in sperm and modifies anxiety and depressive phenotypes in the offspring,” the scientists highlighted the molecular pathway that transmit environmental signals from fathers to their children and generations down the line.

In the study published online in the journal Translational Psychiatry in June 2016, the scientists increased the stress hormonal levels in the mice under observation and evaluated the behavior of the first and second generations of offspring. Both the generations exhibited deviations in behaviors linked to anxiousness and depression, believed to have been passed on via molecules called “micro RNAs,” thus, influencing genetic results.

Lead author Professor Anthony Hannan from the Melbourne’s Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health said, “People have assumed that apart from passing on half his genome, a father’s job is done. But, the experience of the father before conception can directly influence the genetic information in the developing embryo.”

A similar study done in 2015 on Holocaust survivors revealed that trauma suffered by the Holocaust survivors had an adverse effect on their children. The study by a group of doctors from New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital on 32 Jewish men and women who had witnessed torture and despair at the Nazi concentration camps found significant changes in the genes of their children.

“The gene changes in the children could only be attributed to Holocaust exposure in the parents,” said Prof Yehuda, the director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Institute and co-author of the study.

The findings indicated that fathers must lead a healthy lifestyle, devoid of worries and anxiety, even before the conception of the baby to avoid transmission of mental health disorders to the future generations. The study debunks the existing belief that only mothers are responsible for the mental health of their children and corroborates the fact that fathers are also equally responsible to determine the mental well-being of their children.

Help is just a call away

The findings highlighted that paternal stress also contributes to negative behavioral tendencies in an offspring. Though feelings of anxiety can evolve due to various reasons, but what people fail to realize is that being constantly worried does not change the past but may have an adverse impact on the future. A constant feeling of worry and anxiousness  not only depletes the happiness of today but also poses a serious threat to the future.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any anxiety-related disorder, contact the Anxiety Treatment Advisors of Colorado at our 24/7 helpline number 866-891-2539 or chat online to get connected to one of the most effective anxiety treatment centers in Colorado. Our experts can guide you to the best anxiety treatment in Colorado.


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