Depression isn’t just tough on the people who are suffering from it. It can be especially hard on families when one of your children is dealing with mental health issues. Depression can be inherited through heredity, and it can also creep into a family’s psyche from a troubled environment. Yet when someone finally gets help for depression, families can heal as well.
Healing Yourself and the Family
As a new article in The Atlantic explains, “Early evidence suggests that treatment has a ripple effect in families.” The writer of the article, Angela Lashbrook, explains she was in therapy as a kid for depression. “On and off until I graduated high school, I’d ‘hang out’ in the doctor’s office, playing [board game] Connect Four before begrudgingly consenting to more intense discussions. The effect of these sessions was undoubtedly helpful for me. But one thing my self-involved teen brain never considered was that the treatment could improve my parents’ mental health as well.”
And new research backs Lashbrook up on this. The American Psychological Association just reported that when teens get help for depression, depression symptoms in their parents can heal as well. “The finding, based on a study of 325 American teens and their parents, points to what might seem obvious in hindsight: happier kids make happier parents.”
The Heredity of Mental Health
In researching this article, Lashbrook noted that 87% of the parents in this study were mothers. An earlier study of women who suffered from depression showed they were more likely to have children with behavior problems. Another study revealed that even if a depressed parent adopts a child, a parent’s depression affects a natural or an adopted child.
It’s hard to see a troubled child going through depression or mental health issues, and as a source at Columbia University says, “Relationships are reciprocal. If one child isn’t doing well, if they’re having mood problems, if they’re more irritable – it’s affecting their behavior that impacts the rest of the people in the family.”
The Collateral Effects of Depression
The collateral effects of depression can affect a person’s surrounding environment as well. One professor told The Atlantic that in schools “teachers report that one of the greatest stressors is mental illness within the student population, so I can’t imagine that if these things aren’t treated, that it won’t affect the overall classroom environment and climate.”
Apparently, there is still more research that needs to be done about how overcoming depression can affect a family. Again, depression isn’t just tough on people that are suffering through it, it can be hard on the people around you as well. But kids and parents getting treated together can be very beneficial, and it can help everyone heal together.
As Lashbrook concludes, “I know my depression and anxiety impacted my parents, but the extent to which my mental-health care has affected them is hard to quantify.” The current research states “it indeed make some difference, and that mental health, both good and bad, has a ripple effect – through families, through communities, and maybe even beyond.”