Depression, Delinquency, and Relationships

Depressed and delinquent children feel anxious in their social connections

(RxWiki News) If your child is overly negative—either feeling habitually gloomy or acting out—its likely to affect their relationships with others.

A new study into the social connections of troubled youth reveals insecure and anxiety-driven bonds within the relationships of depressed and misbehaving adolescents.

On the contrary, healthy kids tend to feel more secure in their friendships.

"Talk to a pediatric counselor if your child suffers from negative behavior."

“Both depressed and delinquent adolescents show more anxious attachment,” writes Marie Delhaye, researcher at French-speaking university in Brussels, and colleagues. The authors further unveiled “depressed adolescents are less resilient than delinquent adolescents.”

Within the study, 50 depressed, 51 institutionalized delinquent, and 51 healthy children took part in diagnostic interviews and intelligence assessments, as well as a series of pointed-questions designed to interpret attachment and socio-emotional skills. These “socio-emotional skills” include emotional intelligence (the ability to identify and control feelings), empathy (the ability to recognize and share feelings), and resilience (the ability to cope with adversity and stress).

While the healthy controls scored high on secure attachment, depressed and delinquent children had trouble being emotionally present in social settings. Their scores indicated preoccupied, or anxious, attachment.

Understandably, those children suffering from depression had the lowest scores on both emotional intelligence and resilience, and interestingly, delinquent adolescents had lower intelligence than the other two groups, yet were “well-adjusted overall.”

Authors of the study believe, “The anxious or preoccupied attachment in both clinical groups, the overall frailty of depressive adolescents and the apparent resilience of delinquent adolescents despite their cognitive limitations should inform the respective treatment plans for these groups of adolescents.”

This study is published in the journal Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy with no conflicts of interest apparent.

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Review Date: 
February 29, 2012