Numerous factors have been examined as precursors to depression. Vulnerabilities include neuroticism and dependency, with the latter broken down even further into neediness or connectedness dependency. When children enter adolescence, they begin to look to their social networks and peers to get their emotional needs met. Rather than relying solely on their family and parents for support, they develop relationships that become integral to their development. Although research on depression has studied peer relations and parent-child relations, few studies have looked at how both of these bonds interact to influence the risk of depression.
Daniel C. Sibley-Kopala of the Department of Psychology at McGill University in Canada sought to close this gap in literature. In a recent study, Sibley-Kopala assessed 200 young adults and asked them to recall their adolescent peer relations and parent relationships. He also evaluated their current levels of neediness and connectedness as markers of depression risk. Sibley-Kopala found that when mother-child relationships were weak, peer relationships had a significant impact on connectedness, both positively and negatively. For some participants, positive peer relationships strengthened their feelings of connectedness that were impaired in their parent-child relationship. For others, negative and dismissive peer relations served to weaken their already fragile feeling of connectedness, placing them at increased risk for depression.
With respect to neediness, Sibley-Kopala found similar results. Participants who felt uncared for or neglected by their parents relied more heavily on peer relationships to fill these needs. When they were not met through friendships, neediness increased. However, when the participants developed relationships with peers that were supportive and positive, controlling and harsh parents limited the scope of those relationships, thus increasing the level of neediness. In sum, these findings show that peer attachments have a critical impact on vulnerability to depression, and that parental relationships contribute to these influences. “Despite this, longitudinal research is required to clarify the relationships between parenting, peer attachments, and vulnerabilities to depression,” Sibley-Kopala said. He believes that a better understanding of how peer and parent relationships affect depression risk could help identify individuals who are most vulnerable and provide opportunities for early intervention and even depression prevention.
Kopala-Sibley, Daniel C., David C. Zuroff, Michelle J. Leybman, and Nora Hope. The developmental origins of dependency-related vulnerabilities to depression: Recalled peer attachments and current levels of neediness and connectedness. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science 44.4 (2012): 264-71. Print.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.