A new Canadian study reveals that girls depressed during elementary or middle school phase, grow up to increase their child's chances of indulging in risky behaviour like consuming alcohol or smoking marihuana during teenage years.
The study was conducted on around 3,000 children who were followed ever since they were between two and five years of age. The researchers said that teens of those mothers who were fighting depression during their "middle childhood" were more likely to engage in dangerous activities "since those children may be missing both the supervision and support that a parent can offer during an emotional time," said Ian Colman, who is a study co-author, CBS News reports.
The team examined the data that they received from the national Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth. The data included a large population of Canadians who were two to five years of age in 1994 and teenagers in 2009, which is when the study was concluded.
Every two years, the mothers of the kids were asked to answer a number of questions regarding their physical and mental health, and about the health of their kids and spouses or partners, their available social support and family functioning.
After the children turned 10 or 11 years old, they were asked to fill the questionnaires on their own.
Colman continued: "So we were surprised to see that maternal depression when the child was aged 6 to 10 was actually more strongly associated with those risky health behaviors."
He added that in the past, various studies provided proper evidence to support that maternal depression is associated with depression in the child, but till now there was not much knowledge about the effect of maternal depression on the child's adolescent behaviour.
"Given how prevalent maternal depression is, and that risky adolescent behaviors are associated with poor long-term outcomes in adulthood, we thought better evidence in this area could be really useful" said Colman, who is an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Ottowa in Ontario, Canada, Reuters reports.
Meanwhile, Seanna Crosbie, director of program and trauma-informed services at Austin Child Guidance Center in Austin, Texas, stresses that adolescence is the most crucial time as it is during that stage that children are majorly influenced by peers and need support and guidance from their parents.
"It is during this stage that children gain approval from parents and teachers by exhibiting competencies and activities that are valued by society," leading to a sense of pride and skills mastery, Crosbie said. "If children do not receive positive feedback and encouragement from their environment, they may develop a sense of low self-esteem and inferiority."