Effect of Parent's Death on Children

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

While most children can adjust to the sudden death of a parent, a new study shows that about 10 percent are at risk for depression. Dr. Edward Hill discusses a study on the effects of a parents death on children in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Losing a parent is difficult at any age, and while most children are able to adjust, some remain at risk for depression.

A study in the Archives of General Psychiatry followed children ages 7 to 18 who were coping with the sudden death of a parent.

The study included 182 children who experienced the sudden loss of a parent from suicide, accidental injury, or sudden, natural causes. The researchers studied how the children and the surviving parent were coping with the loss.

The study found that most of the children had adjusted after two years, but for about 10 percent, the grief stayed with them and they were more likely to be depressed.

Risks for prolonged grief included a personal or family history of depression or other mood disorders. Children were also at a greater risk if their surviving parent was having difficulty coping with the death.

The loss of a parent affects the whole family. Family therapy may be helpful as well as one-on-one counseling.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.