Arguing parents can give a child teenage depression
Children and teenagers who saw arguments
were significantly likelier to have mental health problemsResearchers have now devised a test to identify those at risk of depression so children can be helped earlier
00:38 GMT, 29 November 2012
Children who often see their parents having rows are at risk of depression, experts have warned.
Teenagers who witnessed lots of arguments in early childhood were more likely to suffer from the illness than others, said a Cambridge University team.
‘Violent arguments in front of the children contribute to the likelihood of depression,’ said Professor Barbara Sahakian, of the university’s psychiatry department and co-author of the report.
Research has found those who witnessed frequent arguments during childhood and possessed a gene making them more sensitive to emotions, were significantly likelier to become depressed
‘If you are staying together for the
sake of the family, then fighting and arguing in front of the kids is
not good. It would be better for them not to have that kind of
The team identified a gene that made some children more sensitive to
emotions and also more likely to develop depression.
Researchers came up
with a simple test, that can be carried out at school, to identify
those at risk of depression, allowing youngsters to get help before they
suffer with the disease.
Researchers found that teenagers who struggled to process emotional
information were more likely to develop mental health problems.
study of 238 children, aged between 15 and 18, those who did worst at
the test were up to four times more likely to develop depression within a
Previous research has found one in 10 British children aged between five and 16 years old have had mental health problems
Those who did badly had a gene – present in one in five people – that
made them less emotionally resilient.
They also lived in households
where they had been exposed before the age of six to intermittent
arguments for longer than six months. One in three children live like
this, said the team.
Professor Ian Goodyer, principal investigator on the study, said:
‘Whether we succumb to anxiety and depression depends in part on our
tendencies to think well or poorly of ourselves at troubled times.
it comes about that some people see the glass half full and think
positively, whereas others see the glass half empty and think negatively
about themselves at times of stress is not known.
The evidence is that
our genes and early childhood experiences contribute.’
Previous research has found that one in ten British children aged between five and 16 years old have had mental health problems.
In any given year, one in four people will suffer a mental health disorder, with most having a form of depression and anxiety.