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How Childhood Depression Affects You as an Adult

Kids often experience feelings of sadness and mood swings as they grow up and develop, but it’s important to note that childhood depression is different. Children may feel lonely, down, or irritable, but it does not necessarily mean that they have childhood depression.

Childhood depression is a persistent mental disorder, where an individual may feel helpless, worthless, hopeless, and depressed for extended periods of time. Childhood depression is largely believed to be caused by childhood trauma or negative parental patterns, which can have a serious impact on a child’s mental wellbeing and development.

Since childhood years are paramount to our development, you may wonder how childhood depression can affect people as an adult.

How Does Childhood Depression Affect Your Brain?

During childhood, children are like sponges. They absorb everything. They learn new things, new behaviors, and new concepts. The brain is constantly growing and developing. When a child suffers from trauma or childhood depression, the brain can develop abnormalities in this process.

Recent studies by the Washington University School Of Medicine have shown that gray matter in the brain — which is the tissue that carries signals responsible for memory, decision-making, emotions, hearing, and seeing — can be lower in volume. What this means is that the crucial brain cells responsible for decision-making and processing emotions are underdeveloped or stunted.

photo of a small child with sunlight shining behind them blocking out the features of their faceThis research shows that a depressive episode or negative life experience can alter the anatomy of the brain and slow down its development. This is why children with depression may struggle more to regulate emotions and have more mood swings. This study also noted that early childhood depression could have long-lasting effects on brain growth and development. In the long run, this increases vulnerability to future issues as an adult.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Depression?

Children who have suffered from childhood depression are more at risk of developing problems and illnesses later on in life. This could range from physical health problems, such as gastrointestinal issues, but can also be linked to psychiatric issues and substance abuse problems.

Childhood depression can even be connected to physical and behavioral changes, such as chronic fatigue, loss of interest in hobbies, frequent aggression, constant agitation, insomnia, self-harm tendencies, and suicidal thoughts or ideations.

Research also shows that those depressed during youth were more likely to develop diagnosed medical conditions later in life, such as sleep disorders, diabetes, kidney and liver disease, and cardiovascular problems. They are also at an increased risk of physical injury due to self harm or suicidal tendencies.

Not only is the physical body impacted, but the mind, too. The inability to develop efficiently at a young age can lead to a decrease in the development of social skills, self-identity, and a sense of independence. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and depression later in life.

Childhood depression can also make it harder to form healthy relationships because it results in a struggle to manage emotions and regulate feelings. This can lead to mood swings, outbursts, anger issues, and substance abuse as a coping mechanism. All of which makes it hard to create bonds and healthy attachments.

In short, childhood depression puts you at risk of interpersonal, physical, and psychosocial issues. But it also puts you at an increased risk of serious harm without the proper help and support.

It is for these reasons that it is paramount that you seek the guidance of a counselor or therapist. There is a path forward and you can heal from the effects of childhood depression.

Reach out to us to learn more about how depression therapy can be beneficial.