Today, nearly twenty percent of the population meets the criteria for some form of depression, and that doesn’t mean people who are temporarily feeling sad and will be better next week, but people who have real difficulty functioning in life. . Count every fifth person you see on the street, and it’s how many people in your community may be suffering from depression. We need to understand the connection between adult depression and behavior during childhood .

The number of people suffering from depression has reached epic proportions, and the problem seems to be getting worse. Take long hours of work, combine that with increased responsibility, little time to relax, mountains of debt, a poor diet, no time to exercise, and other stressors, and you have a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, this list of stressors applies to most people today, and the end result is usually underlying negative emotions, which can lead to depression and other mental health problems.

However, depression is not just environmental, it is also genetic. This is why children of depressed parents are much more likely to develop depression themselves. In fact, according to one study, 25% of children with two depressed parents had emotional or behavioral problems.

8 behaviors of adults who had depressed parents in childhood

In this article, we will discuss the typical behaviors of adults who had depressed parents so that you can get the help you need if you suffer from depression, or look for the signs in your loved ones.

1. Substance abuse

Due to their recurring or even constant depression, adults who had depressed parents often try to smother their feelings with drugs or alcohol. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America , about 20 percent of people (in the US) with an anxiety or mood disorder such as depression have an alcohol or other substance use disorder, and about 20 percent of those with an alcohol or substance use disorder also have an anxiety or mood disorder.

Substances can temporarily relieve depressive symptoms, but in the long run, studies have shown that drugs and alcohol make mental illness worse.

2. Antisocial behavior

Because parents with depression are more likely to disconnect from others and spend more time alone, the child may begin to mimic this behavior once they reach a certain developmental stage. This can easily carry over into adulthood if the child has no adult influence other than that of his parents.

According to an article on NCBI, “Depression is significantly associated with more hostile negative parenting and more disconnected (withdrawn) parenting. Because parents may not provide the emotional support the child needs, the child himself begins to withdraw because he already feels neglected or mimics the behavior of the parents.

3. Problems maintaining relationships

Depression makes it difficult to have consistent relationships with others, because the person simply does not have the energy to keep up with the relationship. Additionally, social anxiety often occurs comorbidly with depression, which can make adult relationships even more difficult. If parents don’t have many friends outside of their marriage, they tend to spend more time at home. As a result, they can suffocate the child, which can lead to an unhealthy bond. Also, the child may show difficulty in making friends, and this can also lead to adulthood.

4. Low self-esteem

Adults who had depressed parents generally have low self-confidence because they were never taught how to develop their own personality. According to Michelle Sherman, PhD, clinical associate professor of psychology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, children of depressed parents may even blame themselves for their parents’ depression. This, along with negative parenting, can lead to low self-esteem and trouble maintaining a sense of self.

5. Low performance

Healthy parents typically support children’s efforts and encourage them to pursue their goals. However, a disillusioned parent with depression may not have the ability to be there for their children emotionally, which can hamper a child’s performance. Because the child does not have parents encouraging them, they may not perform to the best of their abilities, which can lead to problems in school and the workplace later on.


6. Loss of interest in life

People with depression tend to lose interest in things they once found pleasant, and if parents display these behaviors, children may start to withdraw as well. This can lead to a distorted sense of self, as the child does not learn what he or she likes or dislikes, or may not have the confidence or willpower to try and stick with new activities.

7. Difficulty concentrating

According to an article on NCBI, “problems concentrating and making decisions, as well as other symptoms, can arise as early signs of depression in children and have the strong potential to interfere with intellectual and academic functioning, while associated school failures can independently increase the risk of depression ”.

Children who have trouble concentrating in school who do not receive treatment for depression are more likely to have these symptoms as adults. This behavior, once again, can be attributed to unattached parenting.

8. Feelings of overwhelming

Not surprisingly, adults with depressed parents don’t learn effective coping skills, which can lead to other mental disorders, such as anxiety. The adult may feel that he is inadequate to cope with everyday life and as a result may begin to withdraw from many activities.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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