Early Age Poverty Can Expose Children to Higher Risk of Depression

Though they say that childhood is the best phase of life, it’s not the same for everyone. While children from well-to-do families have the luxury to lead life their way, it can be a tough ride for children from low-income families.

It has been found that children belonging to poor families are more likely to get trapped in the web of depression than those from well-off families. The reason for such incidences of depression in children can be attributed to the brain changes that often form the base for poor academic performance in future.

Studies indicate that early age poverty can cause significant changes in the brain of children, like reduced volume of white and gray matter. This in turn causes weekend connections in regions of the brain primarily responsible for regulating memory, learning, stress and emotion. The overall effect is an increased risk of psychiatric ailment causing clinical depression like situation.

It is for this reason that children especially in the age-group of 5–10 years from low-income families tend to lose the ability to learn new things and experience enhanced stress levels. There have also been incidences where impulsive behavior and intense level of depression have contributed to children committing suicide.

While it may not be possible to completely overcome the structural changes in brain resulting from poverty, by improving the growing environment & socio-economic conditions of children, the effects can be alleviated to a great extent. Most often factors like family fights, early & unattended puberty in girls, peer pressure at schools and miserable living conditions resulting out of poverty can have significant effects on the vulnerable minds and health of children.

Though many governments already have policies and are working towards designing more policies to improve the environmental, economic and health status of children, what they need is to devise ways to make these policies easily accessible to all children. There is an urgent need for counsellors who can talk to poor children and their families in order to create an awareness for the effects that early-age poverty can have on the mental & physical health and future of children and provide the light to overcome such challenges.