Do only children experience depression?

This blog answers: Do only children experience depression? What are the risks of being an only child? What are the personality traits of an only child? What is depression? What are the symptoms of depression? What are the treatment options for depression?

Do only children experience depression?

Studies have indicated that only children are less likely to experience depression than those children who have siblings. Many supporting studies indicate individuals who have siblings show lower life satisfaction, especially younger siblings.

This being said only children enjoy autonomy, complete love and care, and also undivided attention which helps contribute to their growth and development forming one of the strongest personalities compared to other firstborns.

What are the risks of being an only child?

Research indicates that the major risk of being an only child is increasing obesity amongst these children. Supporting this was the reason that parents of single children did not appreciate the food choices of their only children.

Upon researching more about how the only child’s food choices were disciplined by parents it was seen that parents made negative comments about their child’s food choices while other parents did not allow their children to eat certain items increasing the child’s risk of obesity in both cases. On the other hand when parents were seen raising their child’s eating habits the risk of obesity also decreased.

What are the personality traits of an only child?

According to researchers the way his personality traits that are seen among only children are:

Well adjusted

Research indicates that only children show better personal adjustments and can take control of their emotions. This could be because they do not have a sense of competition with other siblings for the love and care of their parents. This adjustment also creates a sense of stability both emotionally and mentally. Apart from this only children also show positive relationships with their parents and other social groups.


Only children also show high levels of independence with higher levels of confidence. This is also proven in studies conducted amongst college students. The study also indicated that only children are more independent than their first-born friends.


Only children are also very ambitious in life as these kids do not compete for their parent’s attention the parents are more sensitive towards the children’s skills and challenges. Being the only child parents get more time to spend on an individual regarding their academics and career practices.


Various studies indicate that only children also scored higher on various IQ tests than other firstborns. As being the only child, they get more time with their parents listening to various stories and experiences and the parents get sufficient time to help them explore various areas of interest and exposure.

Mature character

Studies indicate that only children are also more mature and understanding than other firstborns. They spend more time around their parents which helps them to model the various practices that are carried out by the adults around them.

What is depression?

Depression is one of the most common serious mental health conditions that negatively impact how an individual feels and thinks.

Depression is associated with feelings of sadness, a loss of interest in daily activities, and drastic changes in the energy level and the daily routines of an individual.

Depression in itself can lead to other physical and emotional problems which can be detrimental to a person’s functioning.

The symptoms of depression can vary from individual to individual from mild to severe depending on various factors.

Studies indicate that depression affects about 15% of adults every year and one in every six people experience depression at some time in their life.

Although depression can occur at any age it is more common among teenagers and early adults. Research indicates that women are more vulnerable to depression than men.

What are the symptoms of depression?

The characteristic symptoms of depression are:

  • Feelings of sadness or depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in activities enjoyed in the past
  • Changes in appetite leading to weight gain or weight loss
  • Changes in sleep patterns with very little sleep or long hours of sleep
  • Decrease in the level of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feeling guilty
  • Difficulty thinking and concentrating
  • In severe cases thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of depression must last up to two weeks and cause significant impairment in an individual’s daily functioning to meet the diagnosis of depression.

What are the treatment options for depression?

Depression though widespread is one of the most treatable mental illnesses. About 90% of people with depression respond well to treatment.

Some possible treatment options for depression are


Antidepressants are very commonly prescribed by doctors to individuals with depression. These medications are not sedatives or tranquilizers. They generally do not have any stimulating effects on people who do not experience depression.

Antidepressants usually show their effects within a few weeks. However, in cases where patients do not see any improvement after several weeks, they can alter their doses based on the suggestions provided by their health care practitioners.


Psychotherapy is also called talk therapy. It is used as a single mode of treatment for mild depression or for moderate to severe depression along with antidepressants.

Psychotherapy might involve the individual alone or other related individuals for instance the family of the concerned person.

Depending on the severity of depression psychotherapy might take a few weeks or much longer for significant improvement

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy where the therapist actively focuses on problem-solving. This is done by helping individuals replace their negative thoughts with more positive ones.

Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy is a treatment model that is commonly used for patients with severe and major depression who usually do not respond to other lines of treatment.

It involves brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia.

Patients receive electroconvulsive therapy two or three times a week for a total of 6 to 12 sessions.

Self-help and coping strategies

Apart from therapy and medicine individuals can also carry out some self-help coping strategies such as carrying out regular exercises, getting sufficient sleep, indulging in pleasurable activities, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol to reduce their symptoms of depression


Only children have certain benefits such as undivided attention towards them as children and high levels of success as adults. Their personality seems to be significantly different from those of siblings in positive ways.

Being the only child does not make them more vulnerable to depression than others as they hold the same number of close bonds, high levels of attention, and high levels of exposure. Thus it can be concluded that only children usually have an enjoyable and rewarding life.

Frequently asked questions: Do only children experience depression?

Is being an only child or risk factor for depression?

Being a single child does not act as a factor for depression among children when compared between children with siblings and only children.

Does an only child get lonely?

It is a myth that only children feel lonely, contradicting studies have indicated that only children have the same number of friends as their friends with siblings

What causes depression in children?

Children might experience depression due to various reasons such as family problems, a history of mental illness, or drug use.

How does childhood depression affect the brain?

Studies indicate that depression during preschool years results in lower volumes of grey matter in various parts of the brain.

Which age group experiences the most depression?

Studies indicate that depression is highest amongst ages 18 to 29 and least amongst those aged 30 to 44.


The only child: everything you need to know, answered by research

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