Parental Control Affects Teen's Depression

Study found life events can also influence mood, regardless of genetics

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FRIDAY, Nov. 25, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Parental discipline, life events and social interactions can all contribute to a teens risk for depression, British researchers report.

They note that these risk factors can have an impact on teens regardless of his or her genetic makeup, known to be a strong predictor of depression. The study appears in the November/December issue of the journal Child Development.

Researchers at King's College in London collected information from 328 identical twins, ages 12 to 19, and their parents about the children's depressive symptoms, life events, peer group characteristics, and parental discipline.

They found that twins with the greatest number of adverse events over which they had some control (such as being suspended from school or breaking up with a boy/girlfriend) were more likely to have depressive symptoms than twins who'd suffered multiple uncontrollable life events (death of a parent or close friend, parental job loss).

This may be because participants in the first group blame themselves for their role in causing the adverse event, while twins in the "uncontrolled event" group know they had no influence over what happened, the researchers suggested. Or it may be that the family is more sympathetic to a child who suffers bad luck, compared to a child who may have played a role in his or her own problems.

The study also found that following episodes of depression, teens often experienced increased levels of parental discipline, especially from their mothers. This may boost risks of another bout of depression, the researchers said.

Teens who had a "pro-social" peer group (i.e., other teens with positive goals, such as going to college) seemed to be less likely to suffer depression, regardless of their genetic makeup.

"These findings are useful as they show that not only can parenting and life events cause depression, but that depression can lead to changes in life events and parenting," study lead author Holan Liang said in a prepared statement.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about teens and depression.

SOURCE: Society for Research in Child Development, news release, Nov. 14, 2005

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