According to a recent study, strict parenting alters children’s brains in ways that raise their chance of developing mental health problems, such as depression, later in life.
“We found that a second set of instructions on how a gene is read and become hard-wired into DNA can be introduced by perceived harsh parenting, including physical punishment and psychological manipulation. Some evidence suggests that these alterations alone may predispose the developing infant to depression. If the kids have had a supportive childhood, this doesn’t happen to the same level, stated Evelien Van Assche, MD, in a press release.
10% of Americans suffer from depression.
In the University of Leuven study, 23 Belgian boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 16 participated. They claimed that their parents were controlling, stern, and punished them physically. Researchers contrasted them to classmates who had understanding parents.
The first group had greater variance in “methylation,” which has been associated to depression, according to genome mapping. A tiny chemical molecule is inserted into DNA, altering how the instructions are interpreted and, for instance, causing a gene to produce more or less enzyme.
According to Van Assche, “Those who reported harsher parenting demonstrated a tendency toward sadness, and we assume that this tendency has been baked into their DNA through higher variation in methylation.” We are currently attempting to complete the loop by connecting it to a later diagnosis of depression. If successful, we may be able to utilise this enhanced methylation variation as a marker to identify individuals who may be more susceptible to developing depression as a result of their upbringing.
Any severe childhood stress, according to her, could increase a person’s likelihood of developing depression in later life.