The experience of growing up with a sibling who has depression from emerging adults' perspectives

Shiri Shinan-Altman, Inbar Levkovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aim was to explore the experiences of growing up with a sibling with depression from the perspective of emerging adult siblings. Background: Growing up with a sibling who experiences depression profoundly impacts the personal lives of emerging adults. This study addresses a research gap by delving into the unique experiences of these emerging adult siblings. Methods: Utilizing a qualitative-phenomenological approach, we examined the experiences of 25 emerging adults (aged 18–29) who had lived with a depressed sibling during adolescence. In-depth, semistructured interviews were conducted. Data collection continued until concept saturation. Thematic analysis was employed. Results: We identified two central themes in the participants' experiences. In the first theme, significant challenges were illuminated within the parent–child relationship, marked by frustration, the assumption of parental roles, emotional disconnect, and hindrances to personal growth. The second theme pertained to the implications of their sibling's depression on the emerging adults' personal lives, resulting in sacrifices, emotional turmoil, and a sense of responsibility. Participants also exhibited resilience, empathy, and personal growth. Conclusions: This research illuminates the nuanced dynamics among emerging adults with depressed siblings, underscoring the need for tailored interventions that support both caregiving responsibilities and personal development. Incorporating sibling perspectives into clinical practice can enhance intervention strategies and promote well-being. Implications: These findings underscore the need for personalized support that enables emerging adults to balance caregiving for their depressed siblings with their own personal growth, with a focus on fostering family communication and resilience.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFamily Relations
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Family Relations published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of National Council on Family Relations.


  • depression
  • emerging adulthood
  • qualitative
  • siblings


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