Parental Pressure and Depression: Unraveling the Struggle of Unmarried Daughter



In a poignant revelation, a doctor from Jiangsu province in eastern China, Dr. Gao Panyue, shares the story of a 59-year-old mother, surnamed Zhao, who battled depression due to societal pressure surrounding her unmarried daughter in her 30s.

This revelation has reignited a significant online debate about the intense pressures faced by young people in China when it comes to marriage.

The doctor disclosed that Zhao’s diagnosis was rooted in her deep concerns about her daughter’s single status. Feeling inferior to others, Zhao believed her community was gossiping about her family, adding to her daughter’s marriage prospects becoming a consistent source of conflict between the two.

Dr. Gao noted that Zhao’s emotional well-being improved following hospital treatment, shedding light on the psychological toll that societal expectations regarding marriage can take on individuals and their families.

The story has sparked a renewed conversation on Chinese social media platforms, with users expressing sympathy and sharing their own experiences. Many highlighted the pervasive societal belief that unmarried daughters reflect poorly on their parents, contributing to a cycle of anxiety and depression.

Reflecting on the broader context, one Weibo user commented, “A typical form of Chinese depression is that a parent worries over their daughters being single, not having a second child, or even being childless.” This sentiment underscores the societal norms and expectations that continue to shape the lives and mental well-being of individuals in China.

Pressure On Unmarried Daughter

The pressure to get married in Chinese society is a well-documented phenomenon. Last year, the marriage rate hit a record low, with only 6.83 million couples tying the knot. This marked the ninth consecutive year of decline, painting a picture of shifting attitudes towards marriage among younger generations.

On Xiaohongshu, a platform similar to Instagram, users shared diverse perspectives on marriage. One woman expressed a preference for remaining single if true love was elusive, emphasizing the importance of personal development before seeking companionship.

This sentiment echoes a growing trend among younger generations in China who prioritize independence and self-fulfillment over traditional societal expectations.

The evolving attitudes towards marriage challenge the conventional belief that it is the ultimate settlement or safe harbor. The younger generation sees marriage as an aspect of life rather than a defining factor, contributing to a decline in the number of couples choosing to wed.

This case is not isolated, as reports from 2021 highlighted a similar instance where a woman in her 30s faced severe depression due to familial pressure to marry. Her father’s derogatory comment, labeling her a “devalued product” because of her single status, sheds light on the deeply ingrained societal perceptions surrounding unmarried individuals.

The broader implications of these narratives underscore the need for a nuanced understanding of mental health issues arising from societal expectations. The intersection of traditional values, changing societal norms, and individual aspirations creates a complex landscape that affects the mental well-being of many.

In conclusion, the story of Zhao and her daughter highlights the urgent need for open conversations about societal expectations and their impact on mental health. As China navigates a cultural shift regarding marriage, acknowledging and addressing the emotional toll on individuals and families becomes crucial.

The online debate sparked by this revelation serves as a catalyst for deeper discussions on societal pressures, mental health, and the evolving perspectives of younger generations in China.

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