It is often said that Depression or depressive symptoms can happen because of a chemical imbalance. But it is more severe and complex than that. As per WHO, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression. It is said that women are more affected by depression than men. Now, a new study says that children of mothers experiencing depressive symptoms are more at risk, as adolescents, of experiencing suicidal thoughts and attempting suicide. Also Read - Aamir Khan's Daughter Ira Khan Struggled to Smile at Cousin's Wedding Due to Depression - Watch Video
The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Development and Psychopathology’. The research suggested that this link may be explained by loneliness, potentially opening new ways for youth suicide prevention. Also Read - Signs of Loneliness? Indians Said ‘I Love You' to Amazon Alexa 19,000 Times a Day in 2020
The study, by the universities of Exeter, Montreal, Laval, and McGill, used data from more than 1,600 families from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, a representative sample of new-borns in Quebec followed from birth to 20 years of age. Mothers were asked about depressive symptoms, such as sadness and losing interest in formerly pleasurable activities at regular intervals while their children were aged five months to seven years. Also Read - With Suicidal Depression Cases Increasing Day by Day, Here are Some Mental Health Helpline Numbers to Talk About What Bothers You
The resulting information gave a measure of depressive symptoms – not a clinical diagnosis of depression. Adolescents completed self-reports about suicidal thoughts and attempts at age 13-20 years. Children of mothers with higher levels of depressive symptoms were approximately 15 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts and/or attempt suicide as adolescents compared to children of mothers with lower levels of depressive symptoms.
“We cannot say to what extent this association is due to childhood experiences, genetics, or other factors,” said lead author Dr. Lamprini Psychogiou, of the University of Exeter. “But identifying some of the mechanisms explaining why those children are at increased suicide risk later in life is essential to understand how to prevent suicide among children of mothers with depression,” added Psychogiou.
To this aim, the authors investigated whether feelings of loneliness and social withdrawal reported by the adolescents at age 10-13 years may account for this association. “We found that maternal depressive symptoms in the early years of a child’s life are associated with those children self-reporting elevated levels of loneliness as adolescents, which, in turn, is associated with suicidality,” said Dr. Psychogiou.
“We do know that social relationships in general, and peer relationships in particular, are really important for adolescents. Feeling lonely in early adolescence may influence how one perceives life as being worth living,” added Psychogiou. Psychogiou noted that the findings are important because they suggest that interventions targeting loneliness in young adolescence for children of mothers with depression, may potentially help reduce their risk of suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts later in life.
Further studies are needed to quantify to what extent reducing feelings of loneliness translates into a decrease in suicide risk for those adolescents.
(With inputs from ANI)