The bond between parents and children extends far beyond sharing similar looks or behaviors. A recent study links the symptoms of depression in teens and parents.
According to Kelsey R. Howard, MS of Northwestern University, when a teen's depression improved through treatment, so did depression experienced by his or her parent. "More young people today are reporting persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and suicidal thoughts," said Howard. He added, "At the same time, suicide rates have climbed in nearly all U.S. states. This research may help healthcare providers as we grapple as a nation with how to address these alarming trends."
A total of 325 teens, which had been diagnosed with depression and 325 of their parents or caregivers, participated in this long-term study. The teens were randomly assigned to one of three groups: those who received cognitive behavioral therapy, those who took an antidepressant or those who used a combination of both. The first treatment period ran for nearly one year, with an additional year of follow-up visits.
One-quarter of the parents who participated also reported moderate to severe levels of depression before the treatment period, according to Howard.
Though the treatment process was not family-based, some portions included the parent. Nonetheless, the results showed a positive ripple effect because when the severity of a teen's depression lessened, so did similar symptoms in the parent, regardless of what treatment was used.
Mark A. Reinecke, Ph.D., a co-author of the study said, "Depression is a massive public health concern that will take a variety of approaches to better manage. We believe our study is among the first to evaluate how the emotional health of a child can impact that of the parent."
The full finding was discussed in American Psychological Association's 126th Annual Convention meeting.