“May be I can not stop the downpour, but I will always, always join you for a walk in the rain,” these words by philosopher and author Albert Camus invariably support to be change agent in one's life.
A person may be going through a rough patch in life, but a little support from family and friends can help him keep going. A recent study by the University of Cambridge suggests that support from friends and family can lower the depression risk in teenagers. The research, published in the open access journal PLOS ONE in May 2016, revealed that a supportive family environment can be an important social factor in preventing teenage depression.
The study also stated that exposure to a negative environment in the family during childhood can make a teenager a prelude to bullying, in comparison to his peers.
Chance of developing depression more during adolescence
Adolescence is the time of key developments and increases the risks of mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety disorders. It can increase considering with initial signs and symptoms visible during this period. Childhood family adversities, like negative parenting, family loss, financial constraints, lack of affection from a loved one, sexual abuse, etc., can play a key role in causing depression. Moreover, such situations make a teen subject to bullying in school. The combination of both can invariably affect a child's life, making him prone to severe depression.
The researchers at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge analyzed 771 teenagers, including 322 boys and 449 girls. They examined the relationship between childhood family adversities and bullying before the age of 11, impact of friendships and family support at age 14 and appearance of depressive symptoms at age 17.
The researchers found that support from family and friends during early adolescence can help reduce depressive symptoms in teenage years. Moreover, such support can help children cope with early stress by improving their self-esteem which helps them sail through difficult situations. Such a positive environment assists children in building effective interpersonal skills that help them manage adverse situations. However, the study did not reflect on how social support can influence or affect mental health later in life.
The researchers also said that boys who have been bullied are less likely to develop strong friendship during adolescence in comparison to girls. But the study suggested that the difference exists because the boys suffered from severe bullying or were more sensitive to bullying that left an impact on their lives.
First author of the study Dr. Anne-Laura van Harmelen said, “Adolescents who had experienced negative family environments are more likely to be bullied at school, and less likely to receive family support in adolescence. We also found that children who were bullied in primary school were less likely to have supporting friendships in adolescence. ”
The researchers also found a strong relationship between having a negative family environment and being bullied in school. Thus, a teen tends to get severe depression as he suffers from two odds of life.
Building positive relationships can help reduce depression
Senior author of the study Professor Ian Goodyer said, “Our work really shows how important it is that children and teenagers have strong support from their family and friends, particularly if their childhood has been a difficult one.”
The researchers recommended that targeted interventions should be endeavored to develop strong social relationships among adolescents with stressful childhood. Moreover, school-based mental health programs can play an important role in strengthening friendships through active facilitation of social skills.