Close family ties in childhood can stave off depression

Close family ties in childhood can stave off depression says study of 18,000 teenagers that found those who had strong relationships were less likely to develop the mental illness

  • Reduction in symptoms was greater for girls during adolescence into early 20s 
  • Levelled out to be equally beneficial for men and woman from 20s to middle-age 
  • The 18,000 participants were tracked from age 12 up to 42 using previous data

Parents who are close to their children protect them against depression for decades, according to research.

A study of more than 18,000 teenagers has found that those with strong family relationships are less likely to develop the mental illness.

The reduction in symptoms was greater for girls during adolescence and into their early-20s. 

A study of more than 18,000 teenagers has found that those with strong family relationships are less likely to develop the mental illness

But it levelled out to be equally beneficial for men and women from young adulthood into middle-age.

Author Dr Ping Chen, of North Carolina University, said: ‘Our study was, to our knowledge, the first to examine how family relationships during the sensitive period of adolescence are associated with mental health trajectories through adulthood.’

Previous research showed children who feel alienated from their parents are more prone to depression at school. 

The reduction in symptoms was greater for girls during adolescence and into their early-20s but it levelled out to be equally beneficial for men and women from young adulthood into middle-age

But these findings – published in journal JAMA Pediatrics – are the first to suggest the effect could last for life. 

Participants were tracked from age 12 up to 42 using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. 

Dr Chen said: ‘Those who experienced positive adolescent family relationships had significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms from early adolescence to mid-life than did those who experienced less positive ones.’ 

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