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Does AP protect against childhood depression?

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  • Does AP protect against childhood depression?

    What really causes depression? The medical community explains depression to be a chemical imbalance, influenced partially by genetics but also affected by environmental factors such as traumatic events. But, it's apparent to me that there's more to the depression puzzle. My first daughter was born with major medical problems, but I experienced depression only a brief time after my second child was born healthily. What was the difference? Good question.

    I've been seeing more and more articles addressing depression in infants and children. You can find a couple of these on TheAttachedFamily.com. You can find these articles in the scrolling AP News Desk section in the top righthand corner of the site.

    "Research Shows How PPD Affects Attachment" describes the effect on infants when they interact with their mothers who are afflicted by postpartum depression. The infants themselves appear depressed in cognitive and behavior development. The article goes on to describe how negative parenting behaviors like yelling and hitting are more likely with parents who are suffering from depression.

    Another article, "UAE Childhood Depression on the Rise," discusses the increasing rate of childhood depression in the UAE. One reason for this is that more children of expats are being cared for by someone other than their parents. This compounds the rise of other significant factors such as higher divorce rates, a worrisome economic atmosphere, and more stressful lives in general. An author warns that parents need to encourage an open, sharing environment for their children so they feel safe in airing their feelings. Definitely an AP thing to do.

    What are your thoughts on the seeming rise in childhood depression? Is there really a rise, or just a push in awareness? And what power to AP parents have in protecting their children from depression?

  • #2
    Cause of any form of depression

    Dear Rita,
    I believe that any form of depression is rooted in not being connected to our needs, I learned about that by studying non violent communication, though I never suffered from depression it made great sense to me.
    Warmly,
    Natália

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes, I agree with your perspective on the root of depression. Do you believe that parents and children are becoming more disconnected in the recent years, or do you think that childhood depression was under-reported in years past? It's disconcerting to me to think that there's becoming more disconnection, although I have to admit it makes perfect sense.

      Comment


      • #4
        while i agree w/both of you, that not being connected to your needs can cause depression, as a life-long sufferer of chemical depression, i can tell you there is a strong genetic factor as well. about 90% of my family, on both sides, suffers from it, and continue to pass it down to their children. now, some of this is learned, b/c when you watch everyone around you be depressed, you are environmentally influenced. but the science and studies are too overwhelmingly in favor of DNA.

        b/c of this, i will be hyper-vigilant about recognizing signs in my children.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by PaxMamma View Post
          while i agree w/both of you, that not being connected to your needs can cause depression, as a life-long sufferer of chemical depression, i can tell you there is a strong genetic factor as well. about 90% of my family, on both sides, suffers from it, and continue to pass it down to their children. now, some of this is learned, b/c when you watch everyone around you be depressed, you are environmentally influenced. but the science and studies are too overwhelmingly in favor of DNA.
          See, this for me is where it starts to get complicated. My husband has bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), and he's my first exposure to what a deep, dark depression (or mania, for that matter) can look like. I've been doing a lot of research on this lately, finding that this disorder is very much genetic.

          But, on the other hand, my mother had depression a couple years ago (not nearly as severe as my husband's unmedicated depressions), and while she needed medication to overcome it, it was caused by an extremely stressful chain of events. There is not a history of depression on her side (or my father's side, either) of the family. But, for some families, at least as I'm finding in my research, there is a genetic link to unipolar depression (never mind bipolar disorder).

          The question in my mind is, where are the limits to the "power" of Attachment Parenting in affecting the future of a child who may be genetically prone to developing depression or another mental health disorder? I see AP has have a protective quality in preventing depressions not genetically based but that develop from tough situations, just by helping children learn the coping mechanisms to handling stress. But can the same be said for children, like mine, who are at higher risk of inheriting a gene that predisposes them to depression or another mental illness?

          I've read some articles here and there where the author claimed that Attachment Parenting could help to prevent children from developing mental illness, and I can see that if they are related to attachment. Beyond attachment issues, though, to me, these claims seem a little far-fetched.

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          • #6
            Here's how I understand the whole depression in-heritability thing. (Trying to remember what I learned in my psychology degree ) There is never a 100% in-heritability of a disorder like depression/bipolar. A child would inherit a susceptibility to that disorder which may or may not be "triggered" resulting in the child(or adult when they are older) getting that disorder. So I think the current theory is that while a biological component makes it more likely to for a person to get depression, an environmental trigger is also needed. ie. there are two major influences at play. One can't change the biological make-up of one's child but one can influence his or her environment. And that's where AP comes in! (And I don't mean to imply that if a parent did everything "right" that we could prevent all depression. There are so many factors at play and so many of them aren't under our control. Not to mention how much info we still don't know.) So, I think attachment style parenting is even more important for kids with a genetic susceptibility. And hopefully, if our children do get depressed, all the sensitive parenting we do will at least lessen the severity.

            The best example that I can think of how AP (or sensitive parenting in general) can help prevent depression is with CIO. Prolonged, unrelieved, crying can result in PERMANENT PHYSICAL CHANGES IN A BABY'S BRAIN. These changes make the baby more susceptible to depression among many other things. I definitely wouldn't want this to happen to a baby who already has a predisposition to depression.

            FYI Margot's Sunderland's "The Science of Parenting" is a good discussion of how our children's brains are shaped by the parenting that we do.

            Comment


            • #7
              i suppose the truth, no matter how much i desperately hate it, is that there are no guarantees when it comes to life, much less parenting. we can do everything "right", achieve as close to "perfect parenting" (although there is no such thing) as we can, and yet, our children may go astray.

              all that we can do is make ourselves open, embrace the life that we have been given, do our best, and learn from our mistakes. i believe AP is the best journey to take, but it can't be held up as the salvation for all that could possibly go wrong. if i were reading about anything: prescription drugs, life coach therapy, or parenting philosophies, and it made the claim of guaranteeing a certain outcome, i would run very quickly in the other direction. i would recognize it as a fraud.

              Comment


              • #8
                So if we assume AP instills a consistency, security and emotional intelligence then YES I think that it does protect against depression and other mental illnesses to a certain degree. Even if it is not a total protection I think it lessens the severity of it. I do think some of mental illness is inherited, I mean the tendencies and AP really might make that genes influence less.

                Go AP!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jessica View Post
                  Here's how I understand the whole depression in-heritability thing. (Trying to remember what I learned in my psychology degree ) There is never a 100% in-heritability of a disorder like depression/bipolar. A child would inherit a susceptibility to that disorder which may or may not be "triggered" resulting in the child(or adult when they are older) getting that disorder. So I think the current theory is that while a biological component makes it more likely to for a person to get depression, an environmental trigger is also needed. ie. there are two major influences at play. One can't change the biological make-up of one's child but one can influence his or her environment.
                  Like having the breast cancer gene...it's not necessarily that you're going to develop cancer, but if the right environmental trigger comes along, you might. As I was going through my research on bipolar, this is what I was thinking it was...but didn't have anything yet that firmly described it as such.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by naomifrederickmd View Post
                    So if we assume AP instills a consistency, security and emotional intelligence then YES I think that it does protect against depression and other mental illnesses to a certain degree. Even if it is not a total protection I think it lessens the severity of it. I do think some of mental illness is inherited, I mean the tendencies and AP really might make that genes influence less.
                    Yes, I see what you're saying: AP at least gives those children who do end up developing an inherited mental illness many tools to learn how to cope and thrive; and those same tools can help other children from developing depression during stressful life events.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rita View Post
                      Yes, I agree with your perspective on the root of depression. Do you believe that parents and children are becoming more disconnected in the recent years, or do you think that childhood depression was under-reported in years past? It's disconcerting to me to think that there's becoming more disconnection, although I have to admit it makes perfect sense.
                      Dear Rita,
                      sorry I didnt come back to this topic

                      I am not aware of the chemical depression issue, I am not informed due to not having had the need of this kind of research.
                      The few people I met in my life suffering from depression have had a lot of childhood issues, like most of us though, like not being respected etc.
                      So I hope API and the use of NVC can make a difference in most of the cases
                      Warmly,
                      Natália

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think the mater of a "chemical imbalance" with generalized depression is like the question of the chicken or the egg. Science is well aware of the fact that how we think changes the chemicals in our brains. Obviously someone with depression is going to have a chemical imbalance.
                        I don't know much about the science of manic depression. I have known several people with general depression as well as two with hypo-manic depression (a milder version), both of those very well, and I can assure you that none of them had a pleasant childhood.

                        I believe that a very large percent of mental illness could be wiped out with loving parenting, and the rest made much more bearable.

                        Here's a radical theory - what is therapy if not a form of attachment from a validating figure? Where therapy would fix, great parenting would have prevented.

                        That's my thoughts, anyway.

                        Gaynell

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          New Research: How we're parented changes our genes

                          I just posted an article, "Parenting Style Changes Gene Expression," about a new study up on TheAttachedFamily.com in the AP News Desk, or to go to it directly, click here: http://theattachedfamily.com/membersonly/?p=1557.

                          The study explains how the way we're parented actually changes the way our genes are expressed, and then we pass along this new genetic material down to our children. So, children who grew up in homes with emotional neglect have changes in their genes that affect how well they are able to cope with stress and this tendency is passed along...which gives reason to why depression and other mental illness is often found in families. It's the first study of its kind.

                          This study also confirms exactly what Bowlby meant in his Attachment Theory, and what AP is all about.
                          Last edited by LisaL; 03-02-2009, 06:03 PM.

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