Having positive relationships with family during your teen years can lower your risk of depression later in life, according to a recent study published by researchers at the Carolina Population Center.
The study, one of the first of its kind, examined data from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, which surveyed over 20,000 American adolescents in seventh to 12th grade during the 1994 to 1995 school year. Respondents were interviewed and surveyed multiple times over the next 24 years, with the most recent collection of data occurring when members of the group were between 32 and 42 years old.
Researchers found that those who experienced positive adolescent family relationships had significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms from early adolescence to midlife — pointing to the conclusion that good relationships with family members during this time can foster long-term mental health.
“It is surprising to find that the mental health benefits of positive family relationships in adolescence last so long, even till mid-life,” Ping Chen, senior research scientist at the Carolina Population Center and corresponding author of the study, said in a statement.
Researchers also found that this effect was stronger for female respondents than for males. While women benefit more from a positive childhood in later adolescence and early adulthood, men with a background of positive family relationships benefitted for a longer time over the course of their life.