More Mental Health Connections Between Childhood and Adulthood

Last week, we passed along several connections between trauma experienced in childhood (such physical abuse, sexual abuse, violence, and natural disaster) and mental health issues later on in life. However, there are plenty of more subtle childhood experiences and traits that have also been linked with adult behavioral and emotional difficulty. For example, mental health research from Concordia University suggests a link between stress during adolescence and mood issues, such as depression, in adulthood. Depression has been on the rise in recent years, affecting more people and affecting them at younger ages. This research underway at Concordia looks at whether a stressful home environment (particularly one in which parents are dealing with their own mental health issues) makes adolescents more likely to experience mental health concerns of their own. So far, this link is holding up, and the researchers plan to continue their work.

Another new study has found interesting trends among children who demonstrate fearless behavior, even as young as preschool age. Kids who exhibit fearlessness are highly social, but they also have higher rates of aggression and tend to lack empathy. While not a mental health concern in the traditional sense, this lack of empathy and openness to aggression may cause behavioral and social problems as the child grows, which may have mental health offshoots. Whether in counseling, at school, or at home, encouraging empathy development in fearless kids may help them not just put themselves at risk, but build strong and health social relationships as they age.

Finally, the work of a psychologist in the UK explores links between untreated ADHD and crime. Kids whose ADHD goes untreated (through counseling, therapy, and education efforts) may be less successful in school and therefore, more likely to rebel and assert themselves elsewhere. In each of these three studies, a statistical link alone does not guarantee that the child will develop these consequences. But it can be a helpful point of awareness, spurring parents and teachers to keep an eye out for signs that a child or teen could use some counselor or other help.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

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.

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  • Jillian

    Jillian

    November 9th, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    While it is nearly impossible to provide a perfectly ideal atmosphere for our kids to grow up in,we should try and keep them away from problems like these and if it does end up happening then we need to at least take remedial measures to ensure that these do not have an effect on their adult lives later on.This is a very important issue and needs proper highlighting.

  • sonia

    sonia

    November 9th, 2010 at 4:57 PM

    That makes sense about the connection between ADHD and higher crime rates as the kids grow up. I think that you would discover that any time there is something going on in a child’s life that causes them to have poor school performance it would make sense that there would then be a high correlation between this and high crime rates later in life. These are the kids who do not get that taste of success and praise that other children do so they find a way to get attention later in life in a negative way. School performance is often indicative of how a person’s life is going to turn out. Not that this is always going to be true but it seems like it would be a good place to start.

  • Jacob

    Jacob

    November 9th, 2010 at 6:11 PM

    Do you think depression really has been on the rise in recent years or is it just that we’re more informed about the condition and therefore find it easier to recognize in ourselves and others? My grandmother was very depressed and was never diagnosed nor treated. It’s very clear nowadays that that was what was wrong with her and if she had been around today I would have been pushing her to see a dr. I don’t know if it’s so much on the rise as being seen for what it is.

  • Andrea

    Andrea

    November 9th, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    When a child with ADHD goes untreated, you can’t blame them for going off the rails. Schools don’t do nearly enough for these children and by now should be adept enough at spotting them with ADHD being so common. My suspicion is that the schools do see it but often turn a blind eye. If they acknowledge the need they have to respond to that, which entails additional work on their part which they cannot get out of. It’s easier to pretend they don’t. I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

  • NKT

    NKT

    November 9th, 2010 at 11:37 PM

    Children’s minds are like blank papers and if there is filth strewn over it early on, it definitely keeps the paper dirty for a very long time!

  • Susanna

    Susanna

    November 10th, 2010 at 5:37 AM

    What a great article. More parents and teachers should be encouraged to give it a read.

  • tonya

    tonya

    November 10th, 2010 at 6:42 AM

    mental health issues,like some dangerous physical conditions,can have an effect on the person long after the danger period has passed and this makes it so very important to cure well in time.otherwise it can be very damaging to the person’s entire life.

  • VICKIE

    VICKIE

    November 10th, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    Kids minds need to be kept away from trash for the exact same reason!!

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