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New Study Shows Sisters Help Mental Health and Depression

Having a Sister Improves Mental Health

You may have spent your youth squabbling over everything from Barbies to boys, but according to new research, having a sister could be good for your mental health. A new study from Brigham Young University shows that positive sibling relationships — particularly sisters — have lasting positive effects on mental health and can even help fend off depression. The close bonds encourage traits like kindness and generosity, shaping a positive future. And their findings seem to span all sets of siblings, no matter the age gap.

The research team followed 400 Seattle families who had two or more children, with at least one child between the ages of 10 and 14. They found that having a sister was more beneficial than having a brother because sisters prevented their siblings "from feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious and fearful." And one researcher on the study says that this is more pronounced in females than males because girls tend to take on the role of a caregiver and communicate more openly, and because relationships between sisters tend to be more mutual.

The study also showed that parents' actions impact their children less than siblings' actions, and that siblings have twice as much power to reinforce positive behavior than parents do. Unfortunately, this means that hostile sibling relationships can promote negative behavior, and siblings who fight often are more likely to experience aggression in other relationships. Do you feel like this research rings true in your sibling relationships?

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Join The Conversation
julea julea 5 years
yes! love. built-in best friend! <3 :)
mommyswami mommyswami 5 years
I definitely agree that sisters are good for your health but I think brothers are too. We have seen each other through a difficult childhood and are even more close as adults. I was surprised to read that siblings have more influence than parents, though upon reflection I can see that this has been so true in my life. I didn't fight much with my siblings but my kids do and now I'm even more determined than ever to improve their relationships.
Choco-cat Choco-cat 5 years
i'm a bit confused if this is saying a sister is beneficial to girls or beneficial to both boys and girls. in any case, i don't have any sisters - just brothers...and i'm thinking my brothers would disagree with the finding...
ckeller825 ckeller825 5 years
My sister and I fought so much growing up, and this statement rings true for the both of us: "...hostile sibling relationships can promote negative behavior, and siblings who fight often are more likely to experience aggression in other relationships." She's definitely more stubborn than I am, though. It's impossible getting through to her without a flip-out. I blame my mom for spoiling her too much, though.
Spectra Spectra 5 years
I love my sis, but when we were growing up, there was quite a bit of sibling rivalry. Now we're pretty close, though.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 5 years
Maybe for her but not for me. My sister is an irrational controlling emotional tyrant but I love her anyway.
runswimmerrun runswimmerrun 5 years
I love my sisters!
secretagentspy secretagentspy 5 years
I absolutely believe this! I love my sisters and know they'll always be there for me!
skigurl skigurl 5 years
I heard about this study and I believe it. I don't know where I'd be without my sister. My mom and I are very close, and I have good friends, but my sister is the one person I can tell anything to, know she would never tell anyone else (NEVER have to question the trust), know she will give me advice, won't judge me, will be on my side, and will ALWAYS be there. Nothing I can tell her or do will ever make her leave my life, so it's just more comfortable than a friend who "is like a sister".
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