In today’s article, we discuss a common statement,” Parents make me depressed”. We start our discussion by understanding depression, the different signs indicating the parents’ are depressing the child. Then we also consider the perspective of the parents and the perspective of the children and lastly we try to understand the ways to deal with the situation. Finally, we also review some frequently asked questions about such situations.
How Are My Parents Making Me Depressed?
Your parents may be making you depressed through a variety of ways, this could include:
- Not being emotionally available
- Not supporting you
- setting unrealistic targets
- being unreliable due to their ow mental health
Depression can be understood as a mood disorder which is usually accompanied by a constant feeling of sadness and a loss of interest. It affects almost all areas of an individual’s functioning, right from the way they think, feel, behave to their day-to-day activities. It also brings along with it, a number of emotional and physical problems.
Certain classic symptoms of depression include:
- Feelings of sadness, fearfulness, hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability and agitation
- Sleep disturbances that is; insomnia or sleeping to much
- Reduced appetite or increased craving for food
- Suicidal thoughts
- Unexplained physical symptoms such as headaches or backaches
There can be a number of reasons that may contribute to an individual’s depression. These include; chronic stressful events, trauma, genetic factors, general medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, heart disease, neurodegenerative conditions and stroke among the rest. Along with these factors, an additional factor influencing the occurrence of depression can be the parents and their approach to parenting which can occur in a situation where parents, instead of supporting the child through the trauma, add on to it.
Signs indicating that the parents are depressing the child:
There can be certain signs indicative that the parents may be pushing their offspring into depression such as:
- Not supporting the child to pursue their dreams
In many situations, parents often make decisions regarding their child’s life, with respect to their and their important life events. Lots of parents assume they know what works best for their child and hamper the child’s dreams, their aspirations and their motivation to work towards their dreams. This may force the child to sacrifice their dreams for the sake of their parents and this may lead them to distance themselves from the parents and also harbour resentment towards them.
- Setting unrealistic expectation and putting undue pressure on the child
In the quest to decide the best for their children and to ensure that they stand out in the mob, parents often put undue pressure on the children to succeed at school, at college and practically in every area of their life. The parents set unrealistic expectations which the children may be obligated to fulfil in order to gain the parents’ approval. This often takes the children away from enjoying their lives as individuals and doing activities or participating in events just like their peers.
- Not being emotionally available for the child
Most of the families these days are dual-earning families where both parents’ work.This may lead to a situation where the parents’ are not physically and emotionally available for the child, especially when he/she is vulnerable and may need them the most.
In other situations, parents may have very cold and distant reactions to the children’s issues and this may lead the child to believe that the parents may not be interested in listening to them. They may also be harsh and inconsiderate towards the children because of which the children may find it hard to have an open and close relationship with them and the gap would widen as they grow older. This dynamic may also precipitate in the children’s future relationships.
- Conversely, parental presence is overwhelming for the child and leads to extreme feelings of Anxiety
As discussed above, excessive pressure and unrealistic expectations can also lead the children to experience anxiety of not being good enough in the eyes of the parents. this can be overwhelming for the children as they are unable to figure out ways to reach their parents’ expectations and it may lead them to feel tense, uncomfortable and anxious around their parents, instead of being comfortable and feeling safe.
- Adoption of the parents’ dysfunctional and maladaptive coping mechanisms can also increase the child’s vulnerability to depression.
Children often learn by imitating their parents’ reaction to stressful situations and events. In the face of a stressful situation, if the parents use adaptive coping mechanisms such as talking to someone about the situation, reaching out to seek professional help, venting out emotions in an acceptable manner, the child is likely to imbibe similar ways of coping.
Conversely, if the child sees the parents coping with stress in maladaptive ways, such as abusing drugs and alcohol, pushing people away, isolating oneself, reacting in an aggressive manner, having emotional breakdowns, the children are likely to see these ways as acceptable responses to stress and adapt those, putting them at a risk of depression. Additionally, as depression is also passed on genetically, the child may develop its predisposition if one or both the parents have been diagnosed as being clinically depressed.
- Mental illness of the parent (s) can be a predisposing factor for depression in the offspring.
Living with a parent who deals with a mental health issue can take a toll on the children as well as it disturbs the atmosphere in the family. The patient may at times be hostile and aggressive towards the child, owing to their illness. The children may not receive sufficient attention and their needs may not be met. Additionally, they may also feel emotionally disconnected from the patient, even though the patient may be their parent.
- Abuse of any form (physical, mental, emotional or sexual) can also be a predisposing factor for depression in the offspring.
Abuse of any form can have a life-long impact on the child. It can lead to a lifetime of trauma. Beating, kicking, Hitting the child with an object, taunting, intimidating the child, devoiding the child of the survival essentials and sexually exploiting the child can create grounds for depression and suicidal tendencies in future.
The parents’ perspective:
There can be a number of reasons that can explain as to why parents’ may be pushing their child into depression. In many situations, parents’ try to project their dreams, aspirations and their unfulfilled wishes onto their child with the hope of vicariously fulfilling them at a later stage in their life. An important aspect that they might be missing out on is the fact that their child is a complete individual and has the capacity and capability to make his/her own decisions.
Secondly, both parents or any one of the parents may have grown up in a family in which they may have faced a similar situation and may have been forced to take up something because their parents wanted them to. Because the parents have experienced the same, they learn to see this as an acceptable and appropriate form of behavior with their children as well. This can also be applied to the child learning certain coping mechanisms from the parents.
Thirdly, parenting styles can also be a deciding factor. The parenting styles can be understood as a set of parental behaviours that set a basis for parent child interactions. Right from early childhood,an authoritative parenting style; which is marked by high responsiveness and warmth, leads to higher levels of social skills, emotional regulation, better academic performance, fewer acts of deviant behaviour and higher prosocial behaviour. On the other hand, studies have found that there is a positive correlation between an Authoritarian parenting; which is marked by restrictive and punitive parenting strategies with firm controls and little or no verbal interaction, and depression. Because of the high level of control and lower levels of warmth, the child does not get enough opportunities to make their own decisions. This form of parenting increases compliance but decreases two-way communication. Permissive parenting, which is marked by low levels of control on the children leads to other forms of mental health issues.
The children’s perspective:
The children feel that parents make them depressed as they often end up seeing the parents’ behaviour towards them from the perspective of the ‘conditional positive regard’, which essentially means that they see their parents being happy and satisfied with them only under those circumstances where their wishes are fulfilled and the children’s actions are approved by parents.
Secondly, self-harm, suicidal ideations and behaviours become a very common phenomena as a way of ending the misery and escaping the pain that they experience. Thirdly, their sense of self-worth and their sense of self diminishes due to the parents’ unavailability, pressure, their mental health issues and also abuse. The children often become emotionally cut-off from the family and engage in delinquent and aggressive behaviour. Children may also be criticised by their parents’ for their weight, their habits, their lifestyle and this may lead the child to develop eating disorders, anxiety and panic disorders.
The child’s misery can increase manyfold when he/she is compared to the sibling or to peers of the same age. The child can develop a sense of anger and frustration towards the sibling and the peers which may severely affect his/her relationships in the present as well as the future.
Dealing with the situation:
There are several ways in which the depressed children can be helped:
Ensuring the emotional safety of the child:
The child can be asked to take a note of all those people in their life that they can have an honest and open communication with. After this, the individual can be encouraged to talk to that person about their struggles so that they can be acknowledged. A strong support network can help in the long run.
Involving a mental health professional:
In cases where the parent’s are the contributing agents to the child’s depression, a mental health professional with the competency and experience of dealing with families and children should be involved. This can ensure a systematic approach to the problem and also provide the child with a safe space to address their concerns. This setting can also help parents understand how their behavior and thoughts contribute to the child’s problem.
Moving the child away:
If the situation permits, the child can be kept away from the factors contributing to his/her depressive symptoms. This can include having the child stay with the guardians or any other caregivers, hostels or boarding schools.
Understanding the perspective of the parents:
Along with understanding the child, it is necessary to address the parent’s reasons for engaging in certain behaviours. This may also go a long way in understanding and resolving any long standing, unresolved trauma that the parent might be experiencing.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
What we recommend for Depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.
Frequently asked questions:
What is the primary cause of depression?
Research suggests that depression doesn’t just happen to a person. Rather, there are many causes of depression, including problems with mood regulation, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical conditions.
Can depression be caused by a gene?
Scientists believe that as much as 40 percent of vulnerability to depression can be accounted for by genetic factors. Environmental and other factors make up the other 60 percent. Studies also show that people with parents or siblings who have depression are three times more likely to have the condition.
Does strict parenting cause depression?
Studies have suggested that authoritarian parenting puts children at higher risk for depression. Also, kids with harsh parents tend to have more trouble regulating their emotions making them more prone to depression.
How do parents’ levels of stress affect a child?
Children are like sponges.There is evidence suggesting that apart from a child’s disposition, a parent’s stress level can affect a child’s behaviour, putting him or her at risk of mood disorders, addiction, ADHD and autism.
Is being a strict parent bad?
Strictparenting deprives kids of the opportunity to learn self-discipline and responsibility by themselves. Harsh limits can temporarily control behavior, but they don’t help the child learn regulating their own behaviour. Instead, harsh limits trigger a resistance in the child.
In today’s article, we discussed a common question, ‘How Are My Parents Making Me Depressed?’. The discussion began by understanding depression, the different signs indicating the parents’ are depressing the child.Then we also considered the perspective of the parents and the perspective of the children and understood the ways to deal with the situation. Finally, reviewed some frequently asked questions about such situations.
I hope this article enhances your understanding of the subject and provides a deeper insight into the importance of having a healthy parent child interaction. Kindly, reach out for any queries or comments.
Prativa. S. & Deeba. F. (2019). Relationship Between Parenting Styles and Depression in Adolescents. Dhaka Journal of Biological Sciences. 28 (1). 49-59.Retrievedfrom: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330839276_Relationship_between_parenting_styles_and_depression_in_adolescents