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Mollycoddling kids could put them at risk for depression

June 26, 2012 - London

People are convinced that happiness offers an antidote to depression and other mental health troubles.

But some experts think this emphasis is wrong, and say the pursuit of happiness has created the problems it was designed to protect against.

Young people now expect easy success as an emotional human right, and crumble into suicidal depression when faced with adversity.

According to the figures from the United Nations, suicide among teenagers and young adults has increased three-fold in Britain since 1970.

The figures revealed that young people from the most affluent and protective backgrounds are the most at risk.

Last year Yale University found that adults who followed tips in magazines on how to be happy often felt worse - due to disappointment at the 'you can be happier' promise proving hollow.

But a review of happiness studies by Nicholas Emler, a professor of psychology at Surrey University, concluded that we seem born with our personal level of self-esteem pre-set for life.

No amount of self-help books can change it, he said.

Many experts believe that what really matters is resilience - the ability to take life's knocks on the chin, pick yourself up and carry on.

A leading expert in the study of resilience, Professor Michael Rutter of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London, believes adversity is like a vaccine - a bit of it when people are young can build up defences for later.

"There is evidence that stress can cause strengthening in some people," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.

This also has a physical effect, he further said, as exposure to emotional pressure can make the body's nervous and hormonal systems more resistant to stress.


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