A new study in the U.S. says that being a parent may not be as fulfilling an experience as might be expected and in fact parenthood does not appear to offer any mental health benefit for the individuals involved.
In fact according to the latest research having children is deemed to be bad for the mental well being.
Previous research has examined parental status differences in emotional well-being, but relatively little has been done about exploring the variations in emotional distress among parents.
This study by Professor Robin Simon, an associate professor of sociology at Florida State University, looked at the relationship between parenthood and depression using data from the National Survey of Families and Households.
The study surveyed 13,017 adults who were asked how many times in the past week they had experienced symptoms of depression.
They were asked questions such as how often they felt lonely, felt depressed, felt fearful, and had trouble keeping their mind on what they were doing.
The results found parents experience significantly higher levels of depression than non-parents, and that certain types of parenthood are associated with more depression than others.
Parents with a child under 18 with whom they are not living were found to suffer the highest levels of depression, closely followed by parents with adult stepchildren living away from home.
They found no gender differences in the association between parenthood and depression.
Professor Simon says that the results disproved the notion that having children enhanced emotional well being and is the key to lifelong personal development and happiness.
This study she says conclusively disputes the case that people without children feel empty and depressed.
Simon says that though parenthood brings rewards, the worries associated with being entirely responsible for another human being appear to outweigh the benefits and do not seem to lessen as children grow older.
But others in the field of childcare and parenting say the study ignores many of the positives of parenting and most parents view bringing up the next generation as an enriching experience.
The study is published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.