Exposure to violence may lead to depression but mother’s support can help

Alison Grodzinski Research Highlights Leave a Comment

Youth living in disadvantaged areas are often exposed to violence daily, both within the home and the community. Growing up in these conditions can lead to feelings of distress, hopelessness and depression. The good news is that positive communication and support from mothers can help youth overcome these negative effects.

Our most recent publication from the Flint Adolescent Study, examined these relationships. Specifically, Dr. Eisman and her colleagues explored four years of data relating to violence exposure, depression and parental support from over 800 youth during their high school years. Using a reslience-based framework, the research team analyzed the data to determine how depressive symptoms change over the high school years, and if parental support helps reduce these effects.

The research team found that symptoms of depression increased from Year 1 to 2 of high school and then stabilized or declined in Years 2 to 4.  Youth who had been exposed to violence and conflict in their families, experienced more depressive symptoms during these years. At the same time, researchers found that youth who reported greater support from their mothers also reported less depressive symptoms.

These findings further the evidence that positive communication and support from parents plays a vital role in supporting healthy youth development and reducing risk of depression among youth.

Findings were published in the July issue of the journal, Developmental Psychology.

The Flint Adolescent Study is a long-term study of 850 at-risk youth in Flint, MI, that began in 1994.


Eisman, A. B., Stoddard, S. A., Heinze, J., Caldwell, C. H., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2015). Depressive Symptoms, Social Support, and Violence Exposure Among Urban Youth: A Longitudinal Study of Resilience. Developmental Psychologyhttp://doi.org/10.1037/a0039501

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