Authoritarian Parenting Leaves Children Susceptible To Depression, Study Shows

A new study has established that strict parenting can lead to depression in children. Researchers at Leuven University found that authoritarian parenting changes the wiring of your child’s brain, leaving them susceptible to mental health issues. 

Harsher parenting can leave children susceptible to mental health issues. 

Dr Evelien Van Assche said that harsh parenting with psychological manipulation and physical punishment could lead to another set of instructions on how genes are translated into DNA. Some evidence suggests that these alterations alone may predispose the developing infant to depression. However, if the kids were raised in a loving environment, this doesn’t happen as much.

The finding might encourage the establishment of a program to screen for vulnerable people. According to estimates, one in ten Americans suffers from depression. Moreover, the results contradict the adage “spare the rod, spoil the child,” which states that an unruly child would never learn compliance and etiquette.

The study was conducted on 23 Belgian girls and boys between 12 and 16 who claimed their parents were authoritarian, manipulative, or physically abusive. The researchers contrasted them to a comparable group of peers who reported that their parents supported them and provided them autonomy. 

The former cohort had a greater variance in “methylation,” which has been associated with depression, according to genomic sequencing. However, most already exhibited early, subclinical symptoms. When a tiny chemical molecule is introduced to DNA, a process called methylation alters how instructions are translated. It might, for instance, alter how much of an enzyme a gene produces.

Greater DNA methylation level associated with depression 

Van Assche said their strategy was based on earlier work with twins. For most of the dozens of data points, two autonomous groups discovered that the twin with significant depression had a greater scope of DNA methylation than the healthy twin.

The DNA is unchanged, but these extra chemical groups change how the DNA’s messages are translated. For example, researchers hypothesize that the inclination towards sadness was bred in the DNA through higher variance in methylation in those who experienced harsher parenting.

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