Childhood Memories Affect Physical and Mental Health of Adults

Clinical psychologist Dr. David Steinbok treats patients in Boca Raton, Florida. A member of the American Psychological Association (APA), Dr. David Steinbok uses psychotherapy to help patients identify parts of themselves that are hidden but contribute to their difficulties and prevent personal growth. Some of these issues are painful memories from the past.

According to a 2018 study by APA, people with fond memories of their childhood, specifically about relationships with their parents, tend to have better health and less depression than those without such positive memories, even in their old age. While past research had shown that this was true for young adults, APA researchers wanted to know whether the same applied for older adults. They used two nationally representative samples. One was done by the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States that followed 7,100 adults in their 40s for 18 years, and another was a Health and Retirement study that followed 15,200 people aged 50 and older for six years. Participants were asked questions about parental affection, depressive symptoms, and overall health.

Participants who reported high levels of affection from their parents as children had better physical and mental health. This was true even later in life, when participants were approaching or in their golden years.

Memory plays a big part in how people see and judge the world. Good memories reduce stress and support healthy life choices, in effect leading to higher quality of work, lower chances of substance abuse, and better personal relationships. People who do not have pleasant childhood memories may be more prone to negative habits that affect their physical and mental health as well as their work and personal relationships. Psychotherapists work with these people to uncover the hidden issues preventing them from living full and enriching lives.

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