Good news for parents! Getting mental health treatment for your depressed teen may ease any depressive symptoms you’re feeling as well, according to a small study of more than 300 American teens and parents (of which 87 percent were mothers). The takeaway: Happier kids make happier parents.
Nearly 13 percent of adolescents in the U.S. experience at least one episode of major depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And numerous studies link teen mental health to depression in parents.
The findings drew on data from a large 2007 study that examined how depressed teens responded to antidepressant drugs and cognitive behavioral therapy as well as a combination of the two. The researchers discovered that regardless of treatment type, the psychological health of their parents improved.
“We found that parental depression symptoms improved over the course of the study,” Kelsey Howard, a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University and a co-author of the new research, told NPR. And this improvement correlated with the children themselves feeling better over time.
Like addiction, depression is a family disease and can have a ripple effect — through families, through communities and maybe even beyond, noted experts. It makes sense that when your child is in a better mood, your spirits as a parent are lifted as well. “We exist in families, we exist in social networks. And a lot of our well-being, a lot of our highs and lows might come from these relationships,” Howard told NPR.
Howard and her colleagues hope these findings help encourage more parents to seek mental health help for their kids and to be more involved in the treatment process.
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