Researchers found that teenagers with close friendships are more likely to have a better mental health when they grow up and become adults. According to a study published in the journal Child Development, those teenagers who were classified as “popular” by their friends ended up suffering social anxiety and depression when they became 25.
According to the psychologists, teens need to co-relate with others of their age considered as “friends” because, humans while in the adolescence, as a stage, construct a stronger psychological health and develop better stress responses for the future, and also improve their academic success during their lives.
Those friends who seemed to be closer than others grew with fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, but more self-confidence within their environments at adulthood. After the end of the study, the now-adults managed themselves better in society than those who preferred to maintain friendships with other teens in a more “superficial way.”
“My hunch was that close friendships compared to broader friendship groups and popularity may not function the same way,” Rachel K. Narr, study leader and PhD candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Virginia, said. “Being successful in one is not the same as being successful in the other.”
Few but true friendships: That’s what teenagers would need for a good mental health in adulthood
According to a study by Virginia University psychologists – supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health -, the teenagers with the closest friendships grew up with fewer chances of suffering anxiety, depression or any other social disorder.
During a period of ten years, the group of psychologists evaluated around 196 racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse adolescents who were the ages of 15 until they turned 25. Sometimes they also collected data from their closets friends and relatives. Each year, doctors asked their patients questions about their best friends, their development at the school, social anxiety issues, social acceptance, self-worth and self-acceptance, and if they ever suffered symptoms of depression.
Psychologists also asked about adolescents’ popularity. They found that this, considered as a number of superficial friendships teenagers have at school, did not represented a substantial benefit for them. The teens related their popular friends with those who usually frequented for a conversation or for going to some place after school, but not for having a deep friendship with close attachments. If they wanted to exchange intimacy, they always searched for a closer friend whom they could totally trust.
Teens who had closer friends, no matter if they were few, grew with a better construction of their confidence and managed key social developmental tasks better than those whose who were considered as popular.
“Our study affirms that forming strong close friendships is likely one of the most critical pieces of the teenage social experience,” said in a statement the study co-author Joseph Allen, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. “Being well-liked by a large group of people cannot take the place of forging deep, supportive friendships. And these experiences stay with us, over and above what happens later.”
Source: Child Development