Strong Family Dynamics During Adolescence can Help Ward off Depression Later in Life.

Depression is a leading cause of disability and illness for people around the globe. It often arises during adolescence, particularly for females, may extend or recur in adulthood and become a lifetime chronic health disease.

More than 300 million people experience this mental health disease globally. Depression is not only about feeling blue. It can also harm one’s social relationships, school or work, and physical health. Poor mental health and depressive symptoms may also be associated with the recent increase in midlife premature deaths of despair due to suicide, alcohol, and drugs.

Although treatment methods and intervention efforts continue to improve, many depressive ailments remain irreversible. The push for prevention and early, affordable and feasible intervention is stronger than ever, especially for teenage girls. 

The following is about a 'life course perspective' study or an extended study that follows its subjects through different stages in their life and then examine how their social background and environmental contexts influenced their mental health.

The scientific findings were first published on the online publication, The Conversation by behavioral scientists, Dr. Ping Chen, Senior Research Scientist, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, Professor of Sociology, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The First Decades' Long Study

As they tell it, their study was focused on understanding how mental and behavioral health changes and are affected during adolescence through young adulthood.

Dr. Ping Chen and Dr. Kathleen Mullan Harris were specifically interested in identifying family dynamics that may mitigate depressive symptoms or prevent depression in teens altogether.

According to Dr. Chen and Harris, "We found that close and cohesive family relationships, understanding, and shared good times protected them then and later."

Prevention a worthy goal

It is well known from the scientific data that close family relationships subdue the risks of depression during youth, a life stage when depression usually begins, especially for girls. The scientists were interested in knowing whether the mental health benefits of close and cohesive family relations in adolescence last into young adulthood, so they used longitudinal data from a nationally representative specimen to address this proposal.

As Dr. Chen and Harris explain in their article, the family dynamic is a critical area on which scholarly and public attention is commonly focused. However, analysis on the family context for depression generally focuses on risk factors, such as negligence, abuse, and financial insecurity. However, Dr. Chen and Harris wondered whether preventive efforts might be more effective if focused on protective measures relating to family dynamics. There were not many the scientists could find.

Some small cross-sectional subjects with clinical and community samples propose that being part of a close and cohesive family helps mitigate depression symptoms for teenagers.

But does this guarding effect last long into adulthood when adolescents move out of their parent’s house and embark on their independent lives? This engaging and pressing question remains unknown due to longitudinal studies that follow the same people over time.

A study, which scientists, last October in JAMA pediatrics (as far as Dr. Chen and Harris could find) the first and only study to examine the topic over the course of an extensive sampling (over 30 years). Their findings seemingly confirmed that the protective effect of a tight-knit family not only helps mitigate depressive symptoms during adolescence but also continues to protect young people for a decade into young adulthood.

What the Bible Says About The Family Dynamic and Parenting

Being a parent is perhaps the greatest blessing in life. The Bible has a lot to say about being a parent, from being a provider to every day expected tasks to rearing children and instilling good morals. Here are a few scriptures about parenting as it relates to building a tight family dynamic. 

Psalm 127:3-5

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Without good parenting and the Bible reminds us how to do our jobs in His light, lest our children inherit a world and upbringing that is less than desirable. Raising children is by far the hardest and most important job given to us as human beings, which is why it’s not surprising that the Bible speaks so deeply about it.