Some scientists now believe that extreme feelings of guilt in children, can be a strong warning sign for mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder
(OCD), and bipolar disorder later on in life. Research has long linked excessive feelings of guilt to mental disorders in adults—the DSM-V lists feelings of
excessive guilt as a symptom for depression. But researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have
found that excessive guilt in children might be linked to a part of the brain that is connected to controls for several different mental disorders.
As a part of a 12-year study, the researchers looked at a part of the brain called the anterior insula, which
regulates perception, self-awareness,and emotion. Smaller anterior insulas have been linked to anxiety disorders , depression, schizophrenia, and other mood disorders .The researchers took brain scans of 145 school-aged children. They also asked the caregivers to identify whether their kids had exhibited any symptoms of excessive guilt, such as apologizing constantly for minor misbehavior or feeling guilty about things that had happened a long time ago. The researchers found that feelings of extreme guilt correlated highly with smaller anterior insulas. And smaller insula is peedictive to later occurance of depression in later life.
More detailed report of the research on: