Children with chronic illness often show signs of mental health problems

January 4, 2018, University of Waterloo

Children commonly show signs of a mental disorder soon after receiving a diagnosis involving a of a chronic physical condition, according to a recent study in BMJ Open.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo surveyed children between the ages of six and 16, and all within a month of their diagnosis with asthma, food allergy, epilepsy, diabetes or juvenile arthritis. According to parents' responses to a standardized interview, 58 per cent of children screened positive for at least one . This is the first study of its kind to recruit children with different conditions, and so soon after diagnosis.

"These findings show that risk for mental disorder is relatively the same among children with different physical conditions," said Mark Ferro, a professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems at Waterloo and Canada Research Chair in Youth Mental Health. "Regardless of their condition, children with a physical and problems experience a significant decline in their quality life within the first six months after receiving their diagnosis, indicating a need for early on."

Six months after diagnosis, the number of kids showing signs of a mental disorder dipped slightly to 42 per cent. Anxiety disorders were most common, including separation anxiety, generalized anxiety and phobias.

"It is possible that the number is higher very early because there is some uncertainty surrounding the prognosis, or unanswered questions about management and treatment," said Alexandra Butler, a graduate student at Waterloo and lead author of the paper. "It is important to not only identify at-risk children early but to also have resources to support them."

The researchers found that age and gender had no impact on the results. A subset of kids self-reported on their own mental health. Where 58 per cent of parents reported that their children presented signs of a , only 18 per cent of kids reported it. This result speaks to the need for health professionals to get multiple perspectives when assessing 's mental health.

Explore further: Study links mental health to poor school results

Related Stories

Study links mental health to poor school results

December 18, 2017
A national survey led by The University of Western Australia has painted a bleak picture of the effect of mental disorders on Australia's school students with the results revealing poorer academic outcomes, more absences ...

Aussie kids seeking help with ADHD, anxiety disorders

April 6, 2016
Almost one in seven Australian children suffers from a mental health disorder over the course of a year, according to a Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) study.

Women with PCOS should be screened for mental health disorders

November 6, 2017
Women with PCOS are more likely to suffer from mental health disorders and should be routinely screened for these during medical assessments, according to a study presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference ...

Young people with chronic illness more likely to attempt suicide

August 17, 2017
Young people between the ages of 15 and 30 living with a chronic illness are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their healthy peers, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo.

Delaying child's tonsillectomy does not lower risk of developmental disorder

September 14, 2017
Children under age 5 who underwent minor surgery requiring anesthesia had a 26 percent increased risk of later diagnosis with a mental disorder. However, the timing of the procedure did not affect this risk, according to ...

One in four girls is depressed at age 14, new study reveals

September 20, 2017
New research shows a quarter of girls (24%) and one in 10 boys (9%) are depressed at age 14.

Recommended for you

Millennial men value altruism and self-care above traditional male qualities

April 25, 2018
Contrary to popular stereotypes, young men today are likely to be selfless, socially engaged and health-conscious, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting, a Vancouver-based ...

Indications of psychosis appear in cortical folding

April 25, 2018
Imaging techniques can be used to detect the development of psychosis in the brains of high-risk patients at an early stage, as reported by researchers from the University of Basel and Western University in the journal JAMA ...

Maternal binge drinking linked to mood problems and alcohol abuse in offspring

April 25, 2018
Binge drinking by pregnant and lactating mothers can impair the mental health of their offspring, reports a study published today in Frontiers in Psychiatry. In a rat model, Italian researchers find that while habitual drinking ...

Engaging in physical activity decreases people's chance of developing depression

April 24, 2018
An international team including researchers from King's College London have found physical activity can protect against the emergence of depression, regardless of age and geographical region.

Imagining a positive outcome biases subsequent memories

April 24, 2018
Imagining that a future event will go well may lead you to remember it more positively after it's over, according to findings from research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological ...

Early childhood interventions show mixed results on child development

April 24, 2018
Early childhood interventions may have some efficacy in boosting measures of child health and development in low income countries, but more work is needed to sort out how to implement these interventions, according to a new ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.