A new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology has found that teenage depression and anger can affect a person’s love life a quarter of a century later.
After following 178 women and 163 men from the age of 18 onwards, researchers discovered that negative emotions suffered as a young adult can have a long-lasting hold on how people form their relationships well into middle age.
Anger and depression were among the core emotions still experienced over two decades later, despite the fact many subjects had experienced major life events such as marriage, careers and having children.
University of Alberta researcher Matthew Johnson, said: “We assume, or hope, that high school experiences fade away and don’t necessarily resonate 25 years later.
“The fact that symptoms of depression and expressions of anger can endure over many large events in life shows how important it is to deal with mental health early. Sometimes, problems don’t just dissipate. How you grow and change over those early years becomes crucial to future happiness.”
The 341 subjects were studied at key periods in their lives – through their transition to adulthood from age 18 to 25 and then again at the ages of 32 and 43.
When in their thirties, the subjects had their perceived stress levels measured, as well as their perception of the quality of their intimate relationships. In their forties, subjects were studied to identify whether anger or depression they may have felt as young adults was still affecting those bonds.
These findings point to the importance of recognising early that mental health can affect relationships and may lead to more severe problems later on, such as domestic violence and/or divorce.
Dr Johnson added: “It’s not only your partner’s current behaviour or your current behaviour shaping your relationship, but the story you bring with you.”