Sara and Chloe grew up in a poor neighborhood. They often ate top ramen and saw the electricity in their homes go out more than once. Both their parents worked multiple jobs and couldn’t be home very often. Both girls were often left alone. They attended state-subsidized day care centers where the ratios of children to staff were high and staff training and education was low. Their high school was not safe. No one was surprised when Sara was diagnosed with depression. Chloe, however, was fine.
Todd and Brian had a completely different set of circumstances. Their families had more than enough money. They went on exotic vacations and tried unusual foods. They each had a parent stay home while they were young and never attended day care at all. Their school was not only safe; it was also engaging and personally tailored to spark their interests. Todd is fine, but Brian is a beacon of positivity. He sees the whole world as something wonderful to be experienced and explored. In comparison, just being fine seems unfortunate.
Researchers believe that Brian has more in common with Sara than Chloe. How can this be? Brian was unusually positive and Sara was so depressed as to warrant treatment for mental illness. According to several studies, it isn’t that either child is predisposed to depression or positivity. Instead, both children are simply more sensitive to their environments.
Researchers hope that this information can be used to tailor the best possible environments for individuals based upon their own particular genetic code and variables. For this future to be obtained studies need to look not only at how negative environments can cause mental illness, but also at how positive environments can lead to positivity and mental resilience. They are, after all, two sides of the same coin.