Curejoy Expert Dipti Mothay Explains:
Is childhood guilt, adult depression?
Recent research on depression has found that kids who show excessive guilty behavior in their childhood have higher risk for a host of mood disorders later in life. Children who feel safer in their homes and who are sensitive towards other things or hav excess empathy, compassion and apathy are often prone to the feeling of guilt and they normally carry it for a long time. This later on becomes the seed that gives birth to depression.
What do researchers say?
Some scientists sternly believe that extreme feelings of guilt in children can be a strong warning sign for mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and bipolar disorder later on in life.
Research has long seen a link between excessive feelings of guilt and mental disorders in adults. They, thus list feelings of excessive guilt as a symptom for depression. Additionally, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that excessive guilt in children might also be linked to a part of the brain that is connected to controls for several different mental disorders.
Anterior Insulas: A part of the brain and depression
To be precise, the entire part of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are reportedly connected to the part of the brain called anterior insulas. This part of the brain is involved in the regulation of perception, emotion and self-awareness.Relating to the same part of the brain, another research found, for the first time, that feelings of excessive guilt in children can cause physical differences in the brain. Meaning, children who displayed signs of pathological guilt had anterior insula with less volume, which is associated with depression, and were also more likely to become depressed.
Yet another study found that children with smaller insula volume in the right hemisphere, related to either depression or guilt, were more likely to have recurring episodes of clinical depression when they got older.
It is reported that mental disorders are often latent between the ages of four and 12 and so being able to identify children at high risk for mood disorders helps parents and mental-health professionals take preventative measures earlier in life.
Scanning the brain to find out and analyze the size of the anterior insulas is also highly suggested, if parents are doubting depression or excessive feeling of guilt in their child. Early intervention is really important in any form of mental disorder. Dismissing early symptoms would be lethal. Thus, parents should be really aware of their children’s mental health and their emotions and also give them room to share their stories.