Need a perfect paper? Place your first order and save 5% with this code:   SAVE5NOW

Children and Adolescent Depression


Ages 10 to 19 make up one in six of the population. The adolescent years are special and influential. Adolescents are more susceptible to mental health issues due to physical, hormonal, and social changes, such as experiencing poverty, abuse, or brutality. Adolescents’ safety and well-being during adolescence and into adulthood depend on safeguarding them from harm, fostering socio-emotional education and psychological health, and guaranteeing access to medicine. Only children, 13-18 years of age are more likely to experience depression than their peers who have siblings (Villanueva, 2021).

Risk of Depression in an Only Child

As per univariate studies of related features of depressive and anxiety symptoms among adolescents, there is a greater risk of being depressed among only children as compared to non-only children. Statistics shows that approximately 30.7 percent of only children have depressive signs. On the other hand,12.9 percent account for non-only children showing depressive features.

Intimacy vs. Isolation

In stage 5 of Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Developmental Stages, the conflicts adolescents typically face lead them to develop a sense of self as they turn toward either isolation from others or intimacy with them (Cherry, 2021). Only children have a more difficult time with intimacy than the non-only children with siblings.

Effect of Family Structure on Adolescent Development

Adolescent health conduct, mental health, and overall academic accomplishment are significantly influenced by family structure. Adolescents who go through a family structure change may be more susceptible to health risks and do worse in school than peers from intact families. There is growing belief that family structure alterations, such as remarriage and divorce are linked to academic and psychological issues in kids, and that these issues differ depending on the kid’s age.

Family Structure

Various family types, such as blended families, single-parent families, coupled or cohabiting set of parents, large families, and child-centered families, are referred to as family structures.

Understanding Family Structure

There are a wide range of factors that might lead to a family having an only child, including infertility, parental age, health issues, and the simple wish to have one kid. The rise in one-child couples is reasonable considering the strains of contemporary marriage, workplace demands, and the expense of raising children. Only children have closer parent-child relationships when compared to first- and middle-born children in multi-child families, but there is no difference between only children and last-born children (Liu & Jiang, 2021). A significant emotional advantage occurs to only children in China compared to their non-only-child counterparts (Liu & Jiang, 2021). Compared to non-only kids, only kids had a considerable advantage in creating wholesome parent-child interactions (including those from two-child families). After matching only children to the lastborn of big kids’ families, the only-child advantages vanished. In Chinese households, the only-child edge was also gender-specific: females profited more from being the sole child than boys did.

Only Child

The family unit that is expanding the quickest is the one with a single child. Only children are people who were raised without any siblings. Researchers, experts, and the public at large have traditionally all held the belief that only youngsters are lacking. Despite a few researches showing that only children perform better academically than others, most investigations have found only kids to be indistinguishable from others. According to research, those who are the only child have a tendency to be more affectionate and respectful toward their parents than those who have siblings. They likely talk to adults most of the time at home, so they might feel more at ease around educators.

Relationships with Parents

The one-child rule in China has resulted in a significant proportion of only kids after more than thirty years of implementation. The developmental effects of being the only child have been extensively studied, yet little is known about the parent-child relationship dynamics of the only child. This research looked at the parent-child connections of Chinese junior high school pupils using data from the China Education Panel Survey. It also investigated if the correlation between being the only offspring and parent-child relationships was affected by the gender of the children. In contrast to kids from multiple-child households, only kids were more expected to report having a close connection with their moms and fathers, according to two-level sorted logit models. When birth order was taken into account, only children were more expected to have close parent-child connections than firstborns, whereas only kids and lastborn did not differ significantly. Only-child status impacts the parent-child relationship quality, concluding that only children feel closer to their parents than non-only children (Liu & Jiang, 2021). Also, Only-children experience less happiness than their multi-child counterparts.

Emotional Differences in Only Children Vs. Non-Only Children

When comparing them to non-only children, only children experienced lower levels of positive feelings (happiness) when alone and with peers. However, only children did not experience more sadness, stress, or lack of meaningfulness (Wikle et al., 2019). Only-children experience less happiness than their multi-child counterparts.

Long-Term Effects of Being an Only Child

While this study does explore personality differences between only and non-only children in China, it found that as the child ages, these personality differences become slim to none. (Ma, 2021).


In conclusion, I am interested in this topic because, although I have three half-sisters, I feel as if I grew up as an only child since there is an 8-year gap between me, as the oldest, and my next half-sibling. I am also interested in this topic because I anticipate having children later in my life, meaning that I may have only one child. On the other hand, family structure significantly impacts a person’s life and development into adulthood. A family structure of an only child is very different from one with siblings. This research (that only children are at higher risk for depression) prompted me to consider what additional factors may work in conjunction with the family structure to impact children’s emotional health.


Cherry, K. (2021, July 18). Understanding Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development. Verywell Mind. Retrieved February 3, 2022, from

Chi, X., Huang, L., Wang, J., & Zhang, P. (2020). The prevalence and socio-demographic correlates of depressive symptoms in early adolescents in China: Differences in only child and non-only child groups. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health17(2), 438.

Liu, Y. & Jiang, Q. (2021). Who benefits from being an only child? A study of the parent-child relationship among Chinese junior high school students. Frontiers in Psychology, 11

Ma, Z. (2021). Personality differences predicted by single vs. multi-child family status: The impact of the one-child policy. Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research638, 791-796.

Wikle, J. S., Ackert, E., Jensen, A. C. (2019). Companionship patterns and emotional states during social interactions for adolescents with and without siblings. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 48(11), 2190-2206.

Villanueva, S. (2021). The prevalence of mental health disorders and deficits in individuals with and without siblings [Master’s thesis].


Don't have time to write this essay on your own?
Use our essay writing service and save your time. We guarantee high quality, on-time delivery and 100% confidentiality. All our papers are written from scratch according to your instructions and are plagiarism free.
Place an order

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Need a plagiarism free essay written by an educator?
Order it today

Popular Essay Topics