From a medical point of view, psychological illnesses are very complicated. Psychological conditions are affected by both biological and psychological factors, and both aspects are equally significant in understanding and addressing them.
Think of it like this; you messed up at work because you were annoyed. Now, the question is; are you annoyed because you messed up or did you mess up because you were annoyed? While this is a very crude example, it still explains the point that we are trying to make. The relationship between the biological and psychological exists although we are not sure how it works.
Most self reports by patients undergoing physiological evaluation point out that the root cause of the emotional symptoms is trauma experienced in childhood. This is why the family of origin can play a vital role in the onset of depression in later stages of life.
Abusive Families and Depression in Adulthood
Significant life events can cause relapse into depression. Growing up with narcissistic, critical, and unsupportive parents and other family members can leave a person unstable both emotionally and mentally. For those who have experienced this will likely develop depression in this toxic environment.
These situations act as a precursor and reinforces the beliefs that trigger the depression in the first place. When you are repeatedly faced with the abusive, uncaring, and unsupportive behaviors, an unstable mentality is more likely to develop. When you encounter the same reactions over and over again, it’s hard to keep yourself above it all.
Parent Behavior and Depression
Many psychologists and psychological studies suggest that there is a correlation between unstable relationships with parents and the risk of depression and other mood disorders. These relationships create a negative “self-schema” that forces individuals with depressive tendencies to think in a pre-set way.
The way patients see themselves in relation to the outside world is an important factor in deciding their emotional responses. Those brought up in toxic environments have been conditioned to think of themselves negatively People with negative “Self-Schemas” are more likely to develop depression later in life than those who do not have negative self-schemes.
This view of the self is directly linked with unresolved issues coming from traumatic experiences in childhood. The relationships children form with their families, especially parents, shape their identities. Children learn by trial and error. When they observe negative or extreme reactions from their parents, they form an association between their action and the reaction of their parents. When children witness certain reactions, they tend to form an association between themselves and the reaction.
Children carry their childhood associations into adulthood and function the same way even when they are adults. As opposed to children living with toxic families, children brought up in nurturing environments are less likely to think of themselves negatively.
Children with neglectful, critical, or overly involved parents who cannot be satisfied or made happy are at a higher risk of depression. The first opinion that they form about themselves is being inadequate and being the source of shame which causes them to think less of themselves. These thoughts are reinforced as they grow up and develop behaviors that resemble those of depressive patients.
Family dynamics and origin play an important role in the prevention and depression development. Considering the high prevalence of depression across the American population, it is necessary that we intervene to prevent a society wide epidemic. Parents need to seek therapy to resolve conflicts without them spilling over onto their children. They also need to understand how they should behave with and around their children. Families need to be made aware of the effect of their words and actions on the young.
Azizeh Rezaiyan is an anxiety and marriage counseling specialist at Silicon Valley Marriage Counseling. She is a Farsi speaking therapist who offers sex therapy, couples therapy, and family mediation services in Palo Alto. You may contact Silicon Valley Marriage Counseling for more information on her services and to make an appointment.