Family Relationship and Dynamics Regarding Depression

Introduction

A healthy relationship is a vital element for maintaining a healthy life and well-being. People with good family relationships live a long life and cope with stress better. There is a close relation between wife and husband, children and parents, children, and grandparents. Different interests, economic factors, social factors, political factors, modernization, disagreements might arise in the families resulting in a high level of depression that requires much critical thinking and considerations both by researchers and the public.

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Depression as an Aspect Requiring Critical Thinking

Depression is considered one of the most dominant psychiatric illnesses. Moreover, it is registered in women of childbearing age. Depression is defined as a disorder, which affects individuals from all ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds. More than 16% of the general population faces major depressive moments at some point in their lives (Sarmiento, & Cardemil, 2009). It is significant to underline that depression is recurrent, often comorbid in nature, and tends to involve a chronic course. It is necessary to view depression within its social context. A disease has a substantial impact not only on a person but also on a wider community.

Furthermore, researchers and psychologists argue that maternal depression has a negative impact on children, partners, husbands, as well as overall family. Therefore, principles of critical thinking and skills are important for avoiding this problem and treating it effectively.

Literature Review

The problem of depression experienced by family members is an issue of debate and critical consideration. However, most researchers tend to agree that depression negatively affects family relationships. Li and Wickrama (2014) in their article under the title Stressful Life Events, Marital Satisfaction, and Marital Management Skills of Taiwanese Couples study the effects of stress or depression on relationships between husbands and wives in Taiwan.

The paper uses a multilevel modeling analysis. According to the study, marital satisfaction between a husband and his wife reduces due to the menace of anxiety and depression. The test involved 372 Taiwanese couples. The study shows that depression has a significant impact on the relationship between family members. The heavier the depression, the worse the relationship is among family members.

The study points to the fact that stressful life events decrease marital satisfaction among husbands and wives. The authors argue that the marital management skills of spouses are directly associated with an increase in their marital satisfaction, except for the alleviation and soothing skills performed by husbands. Furthermore, the paper finds out that tolerance and empathy expressed by husbands also refer to the increase of marital satisfaction experienced by wives. For this reason, soothing skills of respondents of the test proved to have a substantial impact on stressful life events and marital satisfaction of spouses.

Research conducted by Li and Wickrama (2014) is significant for solving the problem of family relationships, negligence, and depression avoidance. The study analyzes the responsibilities of critical thinkers in avoiding depression. It also describes the quality of critical thinking principles in solving anxiety and depression in the context of family relationships. Moreover, it considers the importance of ethics and moral reasoning in avoiding the menace of depression in family relationships. The study also determines the truth about family relationships and stress. In addition, the paper examines the positive contribution of technology to the process of collecting data about the impact of depression on family members.

Tammentie, Paavilainen, Astedt-Kurki, and Tarkka (2004) conducted research on family dynamics and relations of depressed mothers in the postnatal period. The paper argues that the birth of a new family member usually brings apparent alteration to family dynamics and marital relationships. Families usually face the problem of adjusting to new family conditions. Despite the fact that the period after childbirth brings happiness to most families and their members, postnatal depression has a significant impact on 10–15% of mothers per year. It is explained by the fact that pregnancy and the birth of a child bring serious physical, psychological, and social changes to the life of a woman.

The paper states that the relationship of a couple undergoes significant changes as they redefine their roles in their family and society. According to the conducted study, a good relationship is the most necessary source for coping with such a change. For this reason, the birth of a child changes marital relationships either by making them weaker or much stronger. Moreover, “positive experience of pregnancy and the arrival of a child usually strengthen the couple’s relationship” (Tammentie, Paavilainen, Astedt-Kurki, & Tarkka, 2004, p. 66).

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In addition, the paper shows that men are also influenced by postnatal depression. For example, mothers usually experience depression a few months after giving birth to a child, whereas fathers experience depression approximately from four to twelve months after this event. It is important to note that fathers’ depression is usually caused by a mother’s concurrent depressed state. The paper claims that the causes of postnatal depression in mothers are unclear. Common factors leading to such a condition refer to the lack of social support or unsatisfactory spousal relationships.

Tammentie, Paavilainen, Astedt-Kurki, and Tarkka (2004) conducted research, in which data was collected through interviews with nine families. In these families, mothers scored 13 or even more according to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. The interviews were conducted six or eight weeks after the childbirth. Families taking part in the test were offered a chance to volunteer for an interview and at the same time participate in the study of postnatal depression in Finland. Researchers analyzed interviews according to the principles of grounded theory.

The study found out that strong reactions to the alteration in the family members were evident in families with depressed mothers in the postnatal period who admitted that the birth of a child substantially changed their family structure. Moreover, in those families, both father and mother perceived a child as demanding their energy, time, and intimacy. Furthermore, they went through a constant state of alertness, which drained them physically and at the same time deprived them of the possibility to spend time together. Depressed mothers in the postnatal period suffered from feelings of inadequacy as the child seemed to have infinite demands and needs.

According to the test, such conditions caused unsettled conflicts and unspoken expectations resulting in disputes. Moreover, the birth of a child also resulted in changes in close relations. Postnatal depression of women manifested itself in physical and psychological symptoms related to the environment, fear of loss, as well as striving for perfection. Psychological symptoms included nervousness, tension, and even panic disorder. Women experienced insecurity and fear, particularly fear of their incapability to be good caregivers.

Physical symptoms involved sleep disorders, heart palpitations, trembling, as well as lack of appetite. Depressed mothers avoided going out and ignored social relations. According to the interviews, mothers avoided going out because of their overwhelming desire to maintain the image of a good caregiver in the eyes of other mothers (Tammentie, Paavilainen, Astedt-Kurki, & Tarkka, 2004).

The paper concludes that everyday family life and human relationships tend to change with the birth of a child. Moreover, parents usually experience depression and change of parents’ attitudes towards the child. The only way to avoid depression of the depressed mothers in the postnatal period is to show constant support by husband, other family members, as well as relatives (Tammentie, Paavilainen, Astedt-Kurki, & Tarkka, 2004).

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The paper written by Tammentie, Paavilainen, Astedt-Kurki, and Tarkka (2004) serves as a valuable source of information for understanding the negative impact of the depressed mothers in the postnatal period on family relationships overall and children in particular. The paper devoted much attention to the value of critical thinking in solving this problem. Moreover, it proves its data by providing statistics. It gives readers an opportunity to critically examine the provided information and think about what measures individuals should take in order to reduce the level of depression in families.

Aside from reviewing the research on the impact of depression on marital satisfaction and postnatal depression, it is necessary to examine the impact of family structure on spousal depression. Fahey, Keilthy, and Polek (2012) studied this problem in their book called Family Relationships and Family Well-Being: A Study of the Families of Nine Year-Olds in Ireland. The paper argues that the physical and mental health of parents substantially affects the health conditions of their children. Moreover, parents’ health and well-being are a significant concern for each parent. The paper focuses on the physical and mental health of parents, the quality of intimate family relationships, as well as depression as a crucial factor affecting them negatively.

Fahey, Keilthy, and Polek (2012) argue that the presence of smoking and depressive symptoms among young and adult mothers is strongly associated with social and economic status. For example, in the case of women with lower secondary education, there tends to be five to six times higher probability among these women to smoke and up to three times higher probability to show depressive symptoms, than in the case of women with postgraduate education. Moreover, fathers have much lower rates of depressive symptoms than mothers do. In addition, the risk of obesity among mothers depends on social and economic status only to a limited level.

The paper states that married mothers are at a lower risk of developing the disease than single parents are. However, closer observation points to the fact that conflict with children’s father is the most influential factor. For this reason, single mothers with a low level of conflict or no conflict do not substantially differ from married mothers with a high risk of depression. When taking into consideration the size of a family, it is significant to underline that mothers of larger families tend to have a lower risk of suffering from depression. It is mainly because non-depressed women have a higher probability to have more children (Fahey, Keilthy, & Pole, 2012).

Family size and conflict among divorced or separated mothers are closely associated with the level of depression among family members. According to the study conducted by Fahey, Keilthy, and Polek (2012), a rate of depression faced by mothers who were separated or divorced constituted 22%, which was three-time higher than the rate of married mothers with only 7%. The rate of depression of never-married single parents and mothers of stepfamilies occupied positions between the above-mentioned indices. Parents living with grandparents tend to have a much lower risk of depression.

The paper concludes that a higher risk of depression among women with only one child. It is partially explained by the link between single parenthood and unmarried single parenthood. Furthermore, the level of depression associated with family size can be correlated. For example, mothers with poorer mental health are less likely to have two or three children. In addition, the paper claims that mothers who have conflicts with the children’s father or those who are depressed are more likely to have unsettled conflicts with their children and have a negative impact on them (Fahey, Keilthy, & Pole, 2012).

The study completed by Fahey, Keilthy, and Pole (2012) provides useful information on the dynamics regarding depression among family members. It critically examines the impact of depression on the physical and mental health of families.

The Impact of Academic Knowledge on the Social Elements and Institutions

Literature review of the above-analyzed articles helps to deepen knowledge concerning family relationships and depression. It is necessary to underline that academic knowledge on this problem is of vital importance to young families or families planning to have their first child. Furthermore, those researches are important for social elements and institutions providing information to a vast amount of people.

Numerous studies on family relationships and depression help to avoid symptoms of this disease, cope with it as quickly as possible, and avoid a negative impact of depressed parents on another family partner or children. The study plays a significant role in both academic and professional levels. Academic knowledge can serve as a base for understanding potential solutions for minor family conflicts. The studies are of particular importance since they help to understand the consequences of depression and anxiety in family relationships.

The Influence of Active Citizenship on the Development of Family Relationships

Active citizenship can have a high impact on the development of family relationships. It is significant to underline that the citizens who take an active part in society use principles of critical thinking in order to maintain healthy and strong relationships in their families. Understanding the causes and consequences of the problem helps people avoid the problem of depression. Moreover, active citizenship plays a positive role in reducing the level of depressed husbands or wives.

It is explained by the fact that active people are interested in researches conducted by critical thinkers on family relationships and depression. Reading articles devoted to this issue can help people critically assess this problem and understand what measures might help to avoid such a problem. Technology and the Internet serve as valuable means of searching for reliable and correct information concerning depression and family relationships.

The Importance of Critical Thinking in Understanding Gender Differences in Depression

Numerous studies reveal that there are significant gender differences in depression. Critical thinking includes analyzing and synthesizing information. It is necessary to determine gender differences in depression for the critical analysis of the problem of family relationships and depression. It can help to understand the causes of this problem and determine possible actions for solving it.

Nolen-Hoeksema (2001) states that “across many nations, cultures, and ethnicities, women are about twice as likely as men to develop depression” (p. 173). The paper argues that this argument is true as depression is indexed as both a diagnosed mental disorder and subclinical symptom. The prevalence of the diagnosable depressive disorder is common in women and constitutes more than 21.3%, whereas the prevalence of this disorder in men accounts for only 12.7%. The existence of gender differences in depression is explained by personal variables.

Girls are no more likely to experience depression in childhood than boys are. The level of depression in girls increases rapidly until the age of thirteen, whereas the level of depression in boys remains low or can even decrease. For this reason, in late adolescence, females are twice more likely than boys to be depressed. This gender ratio remains approximately the same throughout the whole of adulthood. However, the absolute rates of depression in men and women significantly vary across the life span (Piccinelli & Wilkinson, 2000). Depressive duration in childhood and adolescence causes a larger period of depression duration in adult life (Nolen-Hoeksema, 2001).

According to Nolen-Hoeksema (2001), gender differences in depression are explained by the fact that women tend to experience certain traumas, mainly sexual abuse, more often than men do. Moreover, females usually undergo such chronic strains as poverty, lack of respect, harassment, as well as limited choices and life opportunities. Even when females and males experience the same stressors, females are more likely than males to develop depression due to gender differences in biological responses to self-concepts, stressors, and styles of coping with problems or conflicts. The highest level of depression in women is registered at mid-puberty through adult life, whereas the highest level of depression in males is detected until the beginning of early adolescence (Piccinelli &Wilkinson, 2000).

Females also tend to face more chronic burdens in everyday life than men do because of their roles relative to men and social status. These features have a large impact on the rates of depression among women. Furthermore, females make less money and are much more likely to live in poverty than males do. They are also likely to face sexual harassment on the job. Furthermore, women have additional responsibilities and duties, including caring for young children or caring for elderly and sick family members. Nolen-Hoeksema (2001) argues, “This role overload is said to contribute to a sense of ‘burn out’ and general distress including depressive symptoms in women” (p. 175).

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Depressive symptoms in females usually occur because of such reproductive events as the premenstrual period, pregnancy, and postnatal period. The most vulnerable females are working-class women and unemployed mothers with young children. The prevalence rates for depression in such females reach the level of more than 40%. Moreover, depression may become recurrent or chronic with approximately 50% of depressed persons having more than one depression experience. Burke (2003) claims that depressed women as main caregivers can exert a negative influence on children, their health, and their well-being (Burke, 2003). Analysis of gender differences in depression shows that females tend to be more depressed than males do.

Critical Thinking Skills and Principles in Maintaining Healthy Family Relationships

Critical thinking is a process of deliberation that includes a wide range of attitudes and skills, mainly identification of other people’s arguments, evaluation of evidence using alternative aspects of the problem, and drawing conclusions about the validity of arguments (Cottrell, 2005). Guth and Marsh (2005) state that critical thinking skills can help reduce conflicts in family relationships and promote peaceful coexistence. Critical thinking presupposes that every family member should base his or her argument against the other person on truth and evidence.

Moreover, critical thinking skills should be applied in the process of avoiding or solving the problem of depression in family relationships. In such a case, critical thinking includes judging other members of the family in a proper way, trying to avoid situations resulting in conflicts. In case of conflict, family members should try to understand one another and find possible solutions to the disputable argument.

Principles of critical thinking have a substantial impact on avoiding and treating depression experienced by family members. They help to apply personal experience to maintaining strong family relationships and the healthy well-being of family members. Lau (2011) argues that the principles of critical thinking play a significant role in avoiding or finding solutions to the causes of depression faced by family members. These principles include searching for information relevant to the source of conflict; understanding reasons for depression; evaluating potential results and searching for the most relevant ways of solving conflicts.

The Importance of Ethics and Moral Reasoning in the Prevention of Depression in Family Relationship

Preventative measures against depression are vital for maintaining the healthy well-being of both parents and children. There is a wide variety of preventative measures, including ethics, moral, psycho-educational groups, as well as marital or couple therapy.

According to Hecker (2010), ethics involves synthesizing, recommending, and defending the right concepts. It also presupposes rebuking conducts that are not right and morally unacceptable. Ethics plays a significant role in providing solutions to problems leading to depression in members of a family. Family members always need to take care of their behaviors in everything they do in order to avoid situations causing stress.

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In addition, ethics enables members of a family to support one another in case of making mistakes that can lead to the stress of another person. Even bitter wounding words can be said to the partner of a relationship without provoking adverse reactions. Moreover, ethics is an important element of social life as it helps to handle difficult situations of conflict with family members resulting in depression (Hecker, 2010).

Shumaker and Heckel (2007) argue that moral behaviors and reasoning in a family have a significant impact on shaping intimate relationships. For instance, the relationship between a husband and wife may worsen and result in a stressful situation if either of the partners starts engaging in unfair marital status. Such behavior can cause depression. For this reason, family members need to establish acceptable moral behaviors and avoid cases leading to depression.

Moreover, ethics and moral reasoning can help a person decide whether he or she needs psychological or medical treatment of depression in order to avoid negative consequences. Burke (2003) argues that depression can be treated with the help of psycho-educational groups. These groups provide family members with data concerning depression, ways of its management, as well as strategies aimed at coping with the disease.

Research-Based Process of Evaluating Depression in Family

Primary studies conducted by psychologists and researchers help evaluate the truth concerning the problem of depression in family relationships. Guth and Marsh (2005) claim that over 70% of respondents think that most families are faced with the challenges that cause anxiety and depression. An analysis conducted by Romans, Tyas, Cohen, and Silverstone (2007) shows a higher prevalence of the major depressive disorder in females compared to males. In the study conducted by researchers, overall rates of depression, and individual symptoms were taken from the respondents participating in the test during the preceding twelve months.

The test showed that women to men ratio of major depressive disorder prevalence constituted 1.64 to1. Depressed women reported having increased appetite (females with 15.5% versus males with 10.7%), being often in tears (females with 82.6% versus males with 44.0%), as well as and thoughts of death (females with 70.3% versus males with 63.4%).

The National Comorbidity Survey reports that the lifetime prevalence of major depression accounts for 21.3% among women and 12.7% among men. Moreover, the gender difference in depression varies from one country to another; however, the prevalence of female depression is evident in all countries. The level of major depression was higher in females than in males in all ten countries studied. It ranged with a ratio from 1,6 to 1 in Taiwan and 3,5 to 1 in Germany (Burke, 2003).

Primary researches help families suffering from depression to find possible solutions and apply their critical thinking skills. Moreover, technology plays a significant role in collecting data on family relationships and dynamics regarding depression. For example, computers and the Internet help to find relevant data on this issue. Furthermore, they provide possible ways of avoiding depression, mainly postnatal depression in women resulting in the weak health of a child. In addition, families can use media sources on depression and its treatment.

For example, UM Depression Center (2010) designed by UM Depression Center provides a short tutorial on how depression negatively affects family members, particularly children. It also suggests possible ways of coping with depression by promoting critical thinking as a possible option.

Conclusion

Critical thinking plays a crucial role in avoiding depression in families and solving conflicts leading to this disease. Depression, especially in women, negatively affects children and family partners. Families in which a partner is depressed should be considered as families at risk. For this reason, critical thinking skills and principles help understand gender differences of depression, its causes, and possible consequences. Moreover, ethics and moral reasoning allow developing measures for solving this problem. In addition, families with partners at risk of depression should look for technologies providing valuable information on the problem of family-related depression.

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