Children whose parents argue frequently in front of them have been found to be at a higher risk of developing depression as teenagers. Research by Cambridge University found that ‘staying together for the kids’ might not be the best idea for their mental wellbeing, as experiencing a prolonged period of arguments (longer than six months) was linked to later instances of depression. The study, which involved 238 children aged between 15 and 18, also linked an increased risk of depression to a gene, explaining that it was a combination of genetics and early life experiences that shape our emotional response to events.
Parents' arguments could have a long-reaching impact ©Fotolia
The research has helped experts come up with a test that can predict children who are more at risk of developing depression, and ideally prevent its onset. Co-author of the report Professor Barbara Sahakian said: “If you are staying together for the sake of the family, then fighting and arguing in front of the kids is not good. It would be better for them not to have that kind of environment.”
Professor Ian Goodyer, who also worked on the study, added: “Whether we succumb to anxiety and depression depends in part on our tendencies to think well or poorly of ourselves at troubled times. “How it comes about that some people see the glass half full and think positively, whereas others see the glass half empty and think negatively about themselves at times of stress is not known. The evidence is that our genes and early childhood experiences contribute.”